Bright Idea for Daily Energy Waste

Pete Musser

money When America wakes up in the morning to plan its day, does saving money make the list? What about reducing carbon emissions for the day? The unenlightened consumer might not realize that these tasks are as simple as switching on a different kind of light.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the U.S. spends $400 billion a year on energy. President Obama recently revealed that “seven percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and businesses.” He also expressed his interest in the new, energy efficient LED bulbs, which consume 80% less electricity.

The educated consumer can see the possibilities. By making the switch, our nation would reduce the cost of energy by $22 billion annually. That is roughly $61 million a day that could be saved if America switched to LED lighting.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 also outlines the tax incentives in place for buildings that are able to reduce their energy consumption. The businesses that stand to save the most from this switch are hospitals, retail industries and office buildings, where lighting consists of 30-50 percent of their electricity bills.

A more detailed breakdown of the savings possibilities reveals similar results. According to the Department of Energy, of the $400 billion energy bill, 40 percent ($160 billion) is used in buildings and homes. On average, 65 percent of the energy bill goes to electricity. That percentage translates to $105 billion in electricity, and lighting makes up 30 percent, or $31 billion spent annually.

led The new LED technology would reduce that bill by 80 percent or $25 billion, which leaves you with savings of $68 million a day! With an average savings opportunity of $65 million a day, one might think this would be at the top of the United States’ to-do list.

The implications of savings are clear, but the carbon reduction is less so. Roughly half of American electricity runs on coal, a massive CO2 emitter. It is estimated that every $1 of electricity signifies 8 pounds in carbon emissions.

If the U.S. is spending an extra $65 million on electricity, that translates into a mammoth 520 million (half a billion) pounds of CO2 a day! To put that number into perspective, the average mid sized SUV emits 12,000 pounds of CO2 a year, or 32 pounds a day. Simply put, the savings would translate into taking 16.25 million SUVs off the road every day!

Private companies are making it more attractive to “go green” as well. Government tax and energy incentives have led the way to new versions of the “cash for clunkers” programs, in which commercial buildings are given privately funded rebates for converting to LED lighting.

As the nation rallies to save more, one might think that switching to LED bulbs would be a priority. The U.S. has two options: turn on the lights, or roll over and go back to sleep.

This piece was originally posted on the GreenandSave website.

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  • Posted on Oct. 7, 2009. Listed in:

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