LED Light and Potential Impact on Energy Savings
Most of us take for granted the ability to flip a switch and illuminate a room. What you may not realize is that electricity is a secondary form of energy. It’s produced in large part (67%) by steam turbines, driven by steam-producing boilers burning fossil fuels. Fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, petroleum) are non-renewable fuels that result in upwards of 78% of our world’s air pollutants.
In the past few decades, humanity has searched for better, safer and renewable energy sources to supplant our dependence on fossil fuels. And, while there have been significant improvements and discoveries with respect to renewable energy sources, we are still sorely dependent on fossil fuels to make sure the light turns on when we flip that switch. Being both a consumer of electricity and a human with choices, I believe it is my responsibility to reduce my ecological footprint.
Today I stumbled upon this paragraph from https://energy.gov/energysaver/led-lighting:
“Widespread use of LED light has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States. By 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh (compared to no LED use) of electricity: This is the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants (1000 megawatts each), and a total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices.”
Now I tried this. A few of years ago, in an effort to reduce my electric bill and energy use, I purchased a few LED lamps as replacements for my regular incandescent bulbs. The LEDs were ridiculously expensive (around $35 each!). And to say I was unimpressed at their harsh color temperature and marginal illuminance is an understatement. I ended up using compact fluorescent lamps in their stead.
Let’s jump forward a few years. Manufacturers have developed LED lamps in a wide variety of color temperatures. New LED lamps are now less expensive (as low as $6) and available in a variety of temperatures ranging from ‘cool’ white light, which is ideal for task lighting, and ‘warm’ light commonly used for accent or small area lighting.
Now granted, $6 for an LED lamp still is a far cry from $.89 one would spend on an incandescent bulb. The thing is, LED lamps use far less energy than the equivalent incandescent and can last 20 to 150 times longer! You read that right. This is where you realize the savings in both energy use and maintenance costs.
Also available are “smart” lamps. The color temperature of a smart LED lamp is tunable. That is, you can adjust the color temperature depending on where the lamp is being used. For example, you can tune a smart lamp to a warm color temperature for accent lighting or tune it to a brighter white color for task lighting or reading. This is typically accomplished via a smartphone app. Multiple manufacturers have developed smart lighting systems, giving you the ability to adjust the color temperature of multiple lamps within your home.
A well-written review of some of the available residential smart lighting systems can be found on The Verge. (https://www.theverge.com/2016/8/23/12560024/best-smart-lights-home-gadgets-philips-hue) …a good read if you’re considering a smart lighting system.
I believe a relatively painless way of reducing one’s energy use and the ecological footprint is by replacing incandescent lamps with LEDs.