Title 20 & Title 24; What Do They Mean?



Table of Contents

  1. Title 20
  2. Title 20 performance requirements 
  3. Title 24
  4. Title 24 Performance Requirements
  5. What’s the Difference Between Title 20 and Title 24?
  6. When Did These Standards First Appear?
  7. From California to the Rest of the Country
  8. Why Are These Energy Standards So Important?


Remember in the 90’s when people thought that we would have flying cars and time travel by the 2020’s? Well, we’re not quite there yet, but we are making some pretty solid strides when it comes to energy efficiency. 

Green energy is emerging as a promising option, with the pressing need to combat climate change. This leap into energy efficiency is further fueled by governmental initiatives like Title 24 and Title 20 compliance regulations, which mandate strict energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances.  

These are specific to California sales, though the regulations have started a domino effect across the United States. I’ll get into the details of that in a moment but first, let’s take a deeper dive into California’s flagship programs.



Title 20, or the Appliance Efficiency Program, sets minimum efficiency levels for energy consumption in consumer electronics and household appliances. Similarly, it also sets higher standards related to water consumption and plumbing equipment. Title 20 certification is a requirement in order to sell a product in California and must be registered with the California Energy Commission before entering the market. 

 This program covers a variety of products from light bulbs to water heaters, and even computers. 


  • CRI, or color rendering index, must be greater than 80. 
  • The power factor must be greater than 0.7. 
  • Appliances must have an hour rated life greater than 10,000 hours (25,000 for MR16s). 
  • A-lamps must have ENERGY STAR® V2.0 omnidirectional light distribution. 
  • Decorative lamp shapes must have ENERGY STAR V1.1 light distribution. 
  • MR16 lamps must be either greater than 80 Lumens per Watt (or LPW) or greater than 70 LPW, depending on the year they were manufactured. 
  • If the lamp is dimmable, it must be dimmable to 10%. 
  • The product should have reduced flicker. 
  • No humming or buzzing greater than 24dB at 100% and 20%. 
  • Compared to incandescent equivalent, the LED must have the capacity to be lower than 3000K, or warm white. 
  • Compared to incandescent, it must be dimmable. 
  • When compared to incandescent, the lumens must be greater than 310 for an E26 base (medium) or greater than 150 for an E12 base (candelabra) or an E17 base (intermediate). 


What Does This Mean for You? 

Basically, the CEC has ensured that lighting products sold in California are brighter, more energy-efficient and longer lasting. This aligns with California’s environmentally friendly mission by creating less waste from discarded bulbs, emitting 80% less greenhouse gases and using significantly less energy when compared to incandescent, halogen and CFL bulbs.   



TITLE 24  

Title 24, or the Building Energy Efficiency Standards, is focused on reducing wasteful and unnecessary energy consumption in new construction and existing buildings. Title 24, unlike Title 20, is not required in order to be sold in California, but it is required for all new construction projects.  

For example, if you are replacing an old light bulb in an existing lamp, you can likely find a non-Title 24 compliant bulb in your local hardware store. However, many retrofit installation units need to meet these standards, as they are considered new construction.  



  • CRI, or color rendering index, must be greater than 90. 
  • CCT, or correlated color temperature, must be under 4000K. 
  • R9, which refers to a light source's ability to accurately reproduce strong red colors, must be greater than 50. 
  • Rated life must be greater than or equal to 15,000 hours. 
  • The light must dim to 10%. 
  • Any flickering should be less than 30% for 200 Hz or below at 100% and 20% levels. 
  • No humming or buzzing greater than 24dB at 100% and 20%. 



What Does This Mean for You?  

To be Title 24 compliant, lighting products must maintain their original brightness for at least 15,000 hours.This means that any product you purchase that meets the Title 24 standards should be one of the most well tested products on the market. Similarly to Title 20, Title 24 is not required in order to sell products in California, but it is required for any new construction projects.  


What’s the Difference Between Title 20 and Title 24? 

Title 24 and Title 20 are fairly similar in that they aim to provide assurance that lighting products will be more efficient and last longer, but Title 24 is just slightly stricter. Title 20 is a product-specific standard, while Title 24 covers how a building is set up and controlled. It’s important to note that lighting products that meet Title 20 requirements may not help in meeting Title 24 regulations. In other words, products do not need to be Title 24-compliant to be sold in California — but new construction or major retrofitting projects do need to meet Title 24 standards. 

Title 24 also is comprised of 12 different sections, which cover far more than just lighting codes. These are things such as fire safety codes, plumbing codes, and historical building codes.  


When Did These Standards First Appear? 

The CEC has been working to create these energy standards since their conception in1975, when the first iterations of Title 20 and Title 24 emerged. The Commission was formed by the Warren‐Alquist Act to respond to the energy crisis of the early 1970s.  

To summarize the crisis briefly, this was a period of petroleum shortages and high prices in the United States, as well as Europe. The crisis was triggered by two events in the Middle East: the Yom-Kippur War of 1973 and the Iranian Revolution of 1979. These events disrupted oil supplies from the Middle East which trickled into the West.  The CEC’s research, programs and policies are still very much relevant today as the state plans for 100% clean energy and carbon neutrality by 2050. 



From California to the Rest of the Country 

California may have been the first of many to move toward a cleaner light bulb initiative, but they became a prime example for the rest of the US to follow. As of Aug. 1, 2023, incandescent light bulbs are no longer manufactured or sold in the United States. While it’s been just short of a year since this step has been made, green energy regulations have been sprouting up nationwide for over a decade. 

Not all incandescent light bulbs are banned as part of the regulation, according to the Department of Energy. Here’s what manufacturers can still build, and stores can continue selling: 

  • Appliance lamps, including fridge and oven lights 
  • Black lights 
  • Bug lamps 
  • Colored lamps 
  • Infrared lamps 
  • Left-handed thread lamps 
  • Plant lights 
  • Flood lights
  • Reflector lamps 
  • Showcase lamps 
  • Traffic signals 
  • Some other specialty lights, including marine lamps and some odd-sized bulbs 


The confusing part of all of this is that each state has specific restrictions, and the laws are constantly changing. This can get dicey when you are searching for lighting products from businesses that sell to multiple states. There are currently 16 states across the country with bans and the rest will follow suite before 2026.  


Why Are These Energy Standards So Important? 

Clean energy makes buildings more comfortable, lowers costs and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which are all good things. The CEC standards ensure that builders use the most energy efficient technologies and construction available.  

One way that the CEC keeps these standards up to date is that the Energy Commission is required by law to adopt new standards every three years that are cost effective for homeowners over the 30-year lifespan of a building.  

The standards are updated to consider and incorporate new energy efficient technologies and construction methods. The standards save energy, increase electricity supply reliability, increase indoor comfort, avoid the need to construct new power plants and help preserve the environment.  



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