LED Lighting Could Help Reduce CO2 Emissions 50 Percent Over 20 Years
Just by switching to LED lights, we could decrease carbon dioxide emissions from electric power use by up to 50 percent in just over 20 years. A recent report by McKinsey & Company states that making this switch is possibly the most cost-effective way to tackle global warming using existing technology.
LEDs are more than twice as efficient as compact fluorescent bulbs, currently the standard for greener lighting. Unlike compact fluorescents, LEDs turn on quickly and are compatible with dimmer switches. And while fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, which requires special disposal, LED bulbs contain no toxic elements, and last so long that disposal is not much of an issue.
“It is fit-and-forget-lighting that is essentially there for as long as you live,” said Colin Humphreys, a researcher at Cambridge University who works on gallium nitride LED lights, which now adorn structures in Britain.
The switch to LEDs is proceeding far more rapidly than experts had predicted just two years ago. President Obama’s stimulus package, which offers money for “green” infrastructure investment, will accelerate that pace, experts say. San Jose, Calif., plans to use $2 million in energy-efficiency grants to install 1,500 LED streetlights.
LEDs have a high initial cost, no doubt – an outdoor spotlight can cost up to $100, compared to $7 for an incandescent bulb. But, imagine not having to change that light bulb again for 20 years or more, and paying pennies on the dollar for power consumption compared to ‘regular’ light bulbs.
They’re still not perfect, being better suited for directional lighting than general lighting needs, but scientists are already finding new ways to address these problems. It’s a start!