The energy used in lighting accounts for an astounding 20 percent of global electricity consumption. It also contributes to six percent of carbon dioxide emissions. With those kinds of numbers, even a slight reduction in lighting-related energy use can have a huge impact on global environmental issues.
LED lighting empowers more than a slight reduction in energy use. Much more. The average LED bulb provides as much light as conventional incandescent bulbs, while requiring 90 percent less energy. Transitioning to LED lighting is an easy way for businesses in any industry to contribute to a brighter, greener tomorrow.
LEDs Light with Less Energy
LED stands for light emitting diode. Whereas incandescent bulbs create light by heating a filament until it glows, LEDs create light by passing electricity through a semiconductor material that releases particles of light.
The innovation technology behind LEDs produces light with far less heat than other light sources. In incandescent bulbs, for example, only about 5 percent of the energy sent to the bulb is released as light. The remainder is converted to heat. With fluorescent bulbs, 20 percent to 35 percent of the energy they consume is used for light. LEDs convert more than 80 percent of the energy powering them to light.
Because LEDs can provide lighting with less energy, they contribute to an overall reduction in environmental impact by reducing energy needs. According to the US Energy Information Administration, more than 60 percent of electricity generation in 2021 involved the burning of fossil fuels. The process releases carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, resulting in air pollution and thermal pollution.
The US Energy Independence and Security Act, passed in 2007, set a minimum standard for energy efficiency for light bulbs in hopes of reducing energy consumption. The law ultimately led to the ban on the production of most incandescent bulbs in August 2023. US officials estimate the shift away from incandescent bulbs to LEDs and other options will reduce carbon emissions by 222 million tons over the next three decades, which is the equivalent of the output of 28 million homes per year.
Shifting to LEDs also has a ripple effect on energy efficiency by reducing the amount of heat produced. In many settings, light-related heat output must be offset by cooling systems. Recent data shows that cooling accounts for 10 percent of total energy usage in the US.
LEDs Light with Less Waste
LEDs also drive efficiency by providing a much longer lifespan than other options. In a setting like an office — where bulbs are used ten hours a day — incandescent bulbs last an average of three to four months. Fluorescent bulbs in the same setting will last approximately two to three years. LEDs provide maximum efficiency, lasting nearly 10 years.
By burning longer, LEDs result in less bulbs in landfills. They also reduce the waste that results from lighting production and packaging.
Fluorescent bulbs, which contain toxic mercury, add an additional concern to lighting waste. Because of their mercury content, fluorescent bulbs are considered hazardous waste and require special steps for disposal. LEDs do not contain any hazardous or toxic materials.
LEDs also reduce waste related to breakage. They don’t utilize fragile filaments or glass enclosures, both of which can be damaged by vibrations or shocks. Their primary components are encased within an epoxy resin for protection.
LEDs light with more Precision
Light pollution is another concern that can be addressed by LED lighting. It is produced by unnecessary, inappropriate, or excessive use of artificial lighting. Street lights, billboards, security lights, and exterior building illumination are all examples of light pollution.
Wildlife is the primary victim of light pollution. It can be disorienting to nocturnal animals that rely on natural light sources like the moon and stars for navigation. It can also interrupt the growth cycles of plants and prevent important pollinator activity.
Light pollution can also have an impact on human life. Excessive artificial light — especially when it is in the blue area of the light spectrum — disrupts normal sleep patterns regulated by daylight. Light pollution that suppresses normal hormone production can lead to serious illnesses like cancer and diabetes.
Conventional forms of lighting result in more light pollution because they are generally less precise. Most are unidirectional, emitting light in all directions, rather than toward the intended target. LEDs have a focused beam, which allows precise directional lighting and less light pollution.
LEDs also have an adjustable lighting spectrum, which can be used to tune in specific wavelengths that are less disruptive to humans and wildlife. For example, tuning out certain colors in street lights makes LEDs less attractive to insects. This prevents insects from being attracted to urban areas, where predators hunting them can be put at risk.
The growing popularity of LED lighting is good news for the environment. It is also good news for businesses seeking to achieve sustainability goals. A simple shift to LED lighting can reduce any company’s environmental footprint by reducing energy, waste, and pollution that results from inefficient and ineffective lighting.
– Dara Greaney is the Founder and CEO of LEDLightExpert.com, an e-commerce lighting retailer. Previously, Greaney was the CEO and Co-Founder at BuyAutoParts.com, an e-commerce auto parts retailer. He is a nine-time INC 5000 CEO and is an expert in growing products and brands that resonate with customers. Greaney is a hands-on leader with LED expertise in lighting design and lighting products as well as over 20 years of e-commerce, business strategy, and marketing experience.
With Greaney as CEO, LED Light Expert has been a 3 time INC5000 winner. Under Greaney’s leadership, BuyAutoParts.com was named to the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies List in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Greaney has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Marketing and Finance and a Master’s degree in Business Marketing and Entrepreneurship. He has been featured on Union-Tribune TV, Business Insider, Parts and People, San Diego Business Journal, MarketWatch, UT San Diego, Energy Markets Today, and Sportz Biz. Greaney has also spoken at the ROI Revolution Retail Traffic & Conversion Summit, the Lavin Center, and more.
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