Every day we are bombarded with advertisements in every form and format telling us that our lives will be improved if we buy a particular product because it will save us money, reduce our work effort, save us energy, or benefit the environment. We are justifiably skeptical because we know from experience that if something sounds too good to be true, usually it is. Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is one of the exceptions. LEDs benefits are so powerful that they seem too good to be true; however, they actually do save us money, reduce our work effort, save us energy and benefit our environment.
Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is a type of solid-state lighting that uses a semiconductor to convert electricity to light. LED lighting products are beginning to appear in a wide variety of home, business, and industrial products such as holiday lighting, replacement bulbs for incandescent lamps, street lighting, outdoor area lighting and indoor ambient lighting. The LED lighting industry is on the brink of acceptance because consumers are beginning to realize the truly amazing advantages LED products have over incandescent, halogen and fluorescent lighting. They are more efficient, durable, versatile and longer lasting. Modern technology has also created other energy efficient lighting options, such as compact fluorescent lamps, which also offer benefits to consumers and the environment.
Over the past decade, LED technology research and development supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has yielded impressive improvements in the cost, color performance, light output, efficacy, reliability, lifetime, and manufacturability of LED products and this upward trend is expected to continue. Dr. William Watson, Physicist, of OSTI’s staff can illuminate you about the latest DOE research, the technology behind LEDs, patents, field tests, and analyses of LEDs and associated devices in actual use in his latest white paper ‘In the OSTI collections: Light-emitting Diodes (LEDs).’
How do LEDs save energy? ENERGYSTAR.gov indicates that ENERGY STAR qualified LED lighting uses about 25% of the energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs they replace. A Department of Energy report ‘Energy Savings Potential of Solid-State Lighting in General Illumination Applications’, based on work conducted collaboratively between DOE and the Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance (NGLIA), estimates the broad deployment of LED lighting could reduce energy consumption by nearly half by 2030 and could save the U.S. $250 billion in energy costs, reducing electricity consumption for lighting by nearly 50 percent.
How do LEDs save money? Switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills. An average household dedicates about 10% of its energy budget to lighting and will spend about $4.80 to operate a traditional incandescent bulb for a year (electricity cost). By comparison, average consumers will spend about $1.00 to operate an ENERGY STAR LED bulb. By 2030, the annual energy savings from market penetration of LEDs is projected to be approximately 297 TWh, enough electricity to power 24 million homes. At current energy prices, that could equate to $30 billion in savings in the year 2030.
How do LEDs reduce our work effort? Good-quality LED bulbs can have a useful life of 25,000 hours or more -- meaning they can last more than 25 times longer than traditional light bulbs. That is a life of more than three years if run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Since LEDs will need to be replaced less often, less effort will be needed to purchase, replace, and dispose of light bulbs well into the future. This is an especially important advantage for industrial applications such as street and building lighting.
How do LEDs benefit the environment? LED lights use less electricity, and as a direct result, they produce smaller amounts of harmful CO2. A report prepared by DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory estimates that over a 20-year analysis period from 2010 – 2030, the cumulative energy savings would total about 2,700 terawatt-hours, which at current energy prices and electricity generation mix conditions represent approximately $250 billion in savings and a greenhouse gas emission reduction of roughly 1,800 million metric tons of carbon.
Whether you are sprucing up your home or office for the holiday season or making a list of New Year’s resolutions, consider upgrading your lighting to energy-efficient bulbs such as LEDs and save yourself money, effort, energy, and benefit the environment today and for many years to come.