As the world sees firsthand the impact of increased carbon emissions, we continue to look for ways to reduce our negative environmental impact. One of the fastest and easiest ways to do that is by switching to energy-efficient lighting. This simple change can lead to hundreds of dollars in savings for families and millions across nations.
The importance of efficient lighting lies in its ability to reduce energy consumption. Homes with efficient lighting can decrease energy consumption by up to 80 percent and save hundreds of dollars. Nationally and globally, it saves millions of dollars and dramatically reduces CO2 emissions.
This article dives into the statistics of energy-efficient lighting and why it’s essential. It also discusses how efficient lighting can save money, decrease energy consumption, and reduce our individual, national, and global carbon footprint. Read on to learn more.
The Importance of Switching to Energy-Efficient Lighting
In the United States, roughly 15 percent of the average household’s electricity consumption comes from lighting.
Families can dramatically reduce their home’s energy consumption and costs by switching from incandescent or halogen light bulbs to LEDs or CFLs.
How Much Can Homes Save by Switching to LED or CFL Lighting?
According to the United States Department of Energy, changing every light bulb in your home to an LED could potentially save around $225 in annual energy costs.
This is the quickest and most affordable way to increase monthly energy bill savings.
You can further increase savings on energy costs by purchasing high-quality, high-efficiency LED light bulbs with ENERGY STAR ratings, which ensures that the LED lights are certified as highly efficient and effective at reducing energy consumption.
Investing in compatible dimmers and timers can also make a difference.
On the other hand, the average American household can save around $198 per year on energy costs by switching from incandescent or halogen light bulbs to ENERGY STAR-rated CFL bulbs.
A CFL may cost around $22 over its lifetime (this could be more or less, depending on the nation’s average price of electricity).
Compare this to ten incandescent bulbs (to make up for the lifespan of one CFL) which would cost almost $90.
That’s quite a difference in cost, and that’s not accounting for the cost of the bulbs themselves.
How Much Can Countries Save by Switching to Efficient Lighting?
It’s estimated that over two billion light sockets in the United States still utilize inefficient incandescent or halogen bulbs.
Although this may seem discouraging, it’s wise to consider that things have been trending positively for some time.
Since 2010, the United States has experienced something of a “lighting revolution.”
Many individual households have jumped on board the LED train, switching from incandescent to energy-efficient lighting.
This change is likely due to the phasing out of incandescents over the past decade and, quite possibly, the rise of smart technology, where LEDs have been at the forefront.
Also, rising energy costs have pushed many Americans to look for more ways to save.
The United States Department of Energy estimated in 2016 that American households saved a combined $675 million in energy costs in 2015 just from switching to energy-efficient lighting.
This is a trend that’s expected to continue. Over the next decade or so, new lighting installations are nearly guaranteed to be various LED technology.
This switch to energy-efficient lighting could save over 550 terawatts of power yearly within the United States alone.
To put that number into perspective, it’s roughly the same amount of energy produced by nearly 100 1,000 megawatt power plants.
Simply put, switching to LEDs in the US could cut national energy consumption by up to 8 percent or more.
This is very important, as it can lead to positive financial gains and reduce the country’s carbon footprint.
An Example of Massive Energy Savings from Lighting Retrofits
In my previous life, I actually built up and sold an energy-efficient lighting commercial distribution company. This was right when the new LED technology was sort of phasing out T8 and T5 fluorescent lighting.
We would retrofit entire warehouses, parking lots, gyms, tennis courts, and many more spaces that were sometimes hundreds of thousands of square feet.
One project we did was a 250,000 sq ft warehouse for a medical distribution company. The project cost about $100,000 dollars all in (labor and materials), but the yearly energy savings was near $40,000 per year.
This equates to only a 2.5 year payback on your money, or a 40% yearly return on your investment.
The energy savings was over a quarter-million kilowatt hours per year, and all this savings was from a coal-powered power plant in Denver, CO as well.
Using the EPA’s very cool climate offset calculator, here are the results from just one typical commercial warehouse:
National Carbon Footprint Savings
Suppose every home in the country switched to LED lighting. In that case, it could make a considerable difference in reducing the US’s carbon emissions.
With every American household changing their sockets to LED bulbs, the country could see average savings of 38 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
That’s the same as removing seven million internal combustion vehicles from the road!
How Much Energy Can the World Save by Switching to Efficient Lighting?
Globally, lighting equates to approximately 13 percent of the world’s energy demands.
So by getting the entire world on board with LED lighting, we could eliminate the need for over 1,200 new power plants.
So, how much energy could that save? Well, the amount of energy produced by power plants varies based on the type of plant and how long it operates.
Assuming we’re talking about a 500-megawatt coal-powered plant, that means a savings of 3.5 billion kilowatt hours per year per plant.
Worldwide Carbon Footprint Savings
According to The Climate Group, lighting produces five percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
Considering that international shipping accounts for less than two percent, it’s clear that lighting has a significant impact on the global carbon footprint.
Some estimates suggest that a global switch to high-efficiency LED lighting could reduce carbon emissions by 1,400 million tons (1.4 billion kilograms).
Energy-Efficient Lighting Options
Two primary types of energy-efficient light bulbs are used today: light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs and compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.
Both lighting types have begun slowly replacing traditional incandescent bulbs. They’re desirable because they produce the same amount of light while consuming less energy.
LED Light Bulbs
To produce the same amount of light energy as a 60-watt incandescent light bulb, an LED bulb uses approximately 12 watts, equating to around 80 percent less energy.
Aside from energy savings, LED light bulbs last longer. On average, they produce light for around 25,000 hours. That is equivalent to about 25 years or more, depending on usage.
LED light bulbs offer consistent, bright lighting with no flickering. Each bulb costs an average of $5 and comes in a variety of colors and temperatures, including warm and cool.
They conserve the most energy by far and last longer than all other bulbs on the market. As a result, they are the number one choice in lighting for energy conservation.
CFL Light Bulbs
CFL light bulbs use around 15 watts of power to produce the same light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb. This equates to about 75 percent less energy consumption.
A CFL lasts around 10,000 hours or roughly 9 to 10 years.
Although CFLs are a better alternative to incandescents, there are some downsides compared to LEDs. For example, these bulbs take a while to achieve full brightness and may flicker. They also have a limited range of temperatures; most are restricted to a cool blue tone.
One CFL bulb costs around $2. Initially, this seems like a better price than an LED.
However, it’s important to note that you’d need 2 1/2 CFL bulbs to achieve the same lifespan as one LED bulb. That said, you’re looking at a similar price — with significant drawbacks.
As the world experiences the devastating impacts of climate change, it’s evident that fast, effective action is necessary.
Although LED lighting won’t mitigate the damage caused by increased carbon emissions, it’s still a simple and affordable solution that could prevent things from worsening in the long run.
Most importantly, switching from one type of light bulb to another is an easy fix most people can get on board with.
Elemental Green: Comparing Different Types of Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs United States Department of Energy: Lighting Choices to Save You Money Zacks – Finance: How Much Money Do You Save From Energy-Saving Light Bulbs? Consumer Reports: How Much Can I Save By Replacing Incandescent Bulbs with CFLs?
Power Over Energy: Switching to LED Bulbs Saves Money and the Planet Smithsonian Magazine: The United States Will Phase Out Incandescent Light Bulbs SaveOnEnergy: LED Lights Save Millions CNET: LED Lights Can Help Save the Planet, One Bulb at a Time