To Live with Respect in Creation – Energy Star Light Fixtures


I got mad at a store clerk this summer.  Since I’m writing the article, I’ll tell the story so I come out looking good in it.  I assure you: she knew I was mad; but I didn’t raise my voice or use bad words.

We renovated a room in our house, and I was looking for a ceiling fan/ light combination to install.  I went into a specialty store that sells lights and fans, and looked around a bit.  I knew I wanted to buy one that was ENERGY STAR®, and I didn’t see that marked on any of the fans or lights in the store.

I asked questions about ENERGY STAR ratings on light fixtures and fans.  I was referred to the clerk who “knows more about that stuff”.  She told me that the only difference was “they put stickers on some and not on others”.  I suggested that answer was not correct and she should be better informed if she was going to try answering customer questions.  There might also have been a rant about I’m not coming back to your store, and I’m going to tell my friends.  So… you are my friends.  I’ve calmed down since that encounter, and won’t name the store, but will try to arm you with the information you need to choose ENERGY STAR lights and fans.

Since I didn’t know what makes a light fixture or fan ENERGY STAR qualified, I thought I’d go look it up.

Let’s start with what ENERGY STAR means: The international ENERGY STAR symbol is a simple way for consumers to identify products that are among the most energy efficient on the market.  Criteria normally include quality measures as well.  For example, it will specify the length of warranty.

According to the Office of Energy Efficiency, at Natural Resources Canada, “ENERGY STAR qualified light fixtures:

  • Use 1/3 the energy of traditional lighting.
  • Save money on energy bills and bulb replacements, with bulbs that must last at least 10,000 hours (about seven years of regular use).
  • Distribute light more efficiently and evenly than standard fixtures.
  • Come in hundreds of decorative styles including portable fixtures… and hard-wired options…
  • Deliver convenient features such as dimming on some indoor models and automatic daylight shut-off and motion sensors on outdoor models.
  • Carry a two year warranty — double the industry standard.

ENERGY STAR qualified fans move air 20 percent more efficiently than standard ceiling fans.”

We normally think of ceiling fans as providing summer cooling.  They are great for that.  Moving air helps us feel cooler, so we can use air conditioning less, or tolerate warm days and nights better.  In the winter, however, you can use a ceiling fan to bring warm air down from the ceiling.  Set the fan on the lowest speed, and have it blow up toward the ceiling.  That will gently move the warm air down and distribute it more evenly in the room (Office of Energy Efficiency).

There is a lot more information available at the Office of Energy Efficiency website.  Follow the links through “Energy Efficient Products” and “Lighting” or “Cooling and Ventilation Equipment”.

I have gone back to that store’s website, and it turns out they carry several models of ceiling fans, with and without lights that are ENERGY STAR qualified.  So do each of the other lighting and hardware stores whose websites I checked out.

I haven’t gone back out shopping yet to get that ceiling fan.  But now when I do, I can be a bit better informed.  Maybe I’ll take a copy of this column with me, and if I come across a poorly informed clerk, I can give them a bit of information.

Source: Natural Resources Canada, Office of Energy Efficiency.

angie smallAngie manages energy conservation projects for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, and is an active member of McClure United Church in Saskatoon. You can contact her at


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The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and all who live in it.  (Psalm 24:1)