Bright Ideas: Light Bulbs Offer Big Efficiency Options

American households have been collectively trying to ramp up energy conservation efforts over the past few years. New technology has led to energy efficient cars and appliances in hopes of fueling change across the country. President Obama has encouraged the movement with his Clean Power Plan, a dedicated effort to accomplish a 32 percent reduction in carbon emissions from the nation’s fleet of power plants by 2030.

While Obama’s plan does encourage the use of solar and wind energy sources, there may be a simple solution that helps the emissions reduction goal and boost efficiency. Overall, “Americans’ energy-conservation efforts, from switching bulbs to upgrading washing machines and air conditioners, have done more to reduce carbon emissions that the increased use of solar, wind and natural gas.” Wood Mackenzie Ltd. Efficiency, an energy consultant, recognizes the big potential households have with small changes. Prajit Ghosh, director of power and renewables research at Wood Mackenie said, “It’s a total bulb revolution. The decline in load growth from both macroeconomic factors and energy efficiency gains is by far the biggest reason carbon emissions fell. At least for the last five years, a majority of these savings came from lighting.”

According to the Energy Department, “lighting accounts for nearly 5 percent of a home’s energy budget and switching to more efficient bulbs is one of the fastest ways to cut those costs.” Newer LED bulbs use 75 to 80 percent less energy than their 19th century incandescent counterparts. LEDs also last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, and cost 85 percent less than they did six years ago. LEDs will also make up 83 percent of the lighting market share by 2020 and practically all of it by 2030.

PJM Interconnection LLC manages the largest United States grid and for the first time, it will include the impact of these efficiency boosting light bulbs and appliances in its long-term demand outlook. Duke Energy Corporation and American Electric Power Co. say, “Higher demand from the improving economy in Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington is being partially offset as consumers become more efficient. DTE Energy Inc. sees flat growth over the next few years compared with earlier projections of a 0.5 percent increase.” In 2007, the United States’ power demand reached a new high of 10.66 billion kilowatt-hours a day and that level remains unmatched eight years later. Between 2005 and 2013, carbon dioxide emissions from electricity producers declined by 15 percent to 2.17 billion metric tons. The lower demand forecasts mean electricity providers need less power generating capacity, which may mean lower cost for consumers.

If you have questions about cutting household costs in your budget, or how to introduce the energy market into your portfolio, call an advisor at Apex Financial Advisors today! We can help you manage your wealth in a variety of ways to suit your needs.