waterproof solar led bulb light

The Economy-Changing Power of the solar LED Bulb

Energy-efficient lighting has resulted in striking cost savings for whole world. And it’s just the beginning.

Per-capita electricity use peaked in the U.S. in 2007. With the exception of a post-recession rebound in 2010, it has declined every year since. I already wrote a column about this epochal shift last month, but the chart that went with it is so remarkable that I’m going to recycle it here.

What caused the decline? I offered several possible explanations. One of them was increased efficiency of electrical appliances. Several readers wrote in to suggest that perhaps it was the lightbulb that did it. Thomas Edison’s incandescent bulbs are being pushed aside by energy-efficient light-emitting diodes, aka LEDs, and that had to have had an impact on electricity use.

I’d been meaning to follow up on this. Then, in a blog post Monday,  The residential portion of the decline in electricity use, at least (my chart above includes commercial and industrial use), can be attributed largely to LEDs and other energy-efficient lighting:

Over 450 million LEDs have been installed to date in the United States, up from less than half a million in 2009, and nearly 70% of Americans have purchased at least one LED bulb. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) are even more common, with 70%+ of households owning some CFLs.  All told, energy-efficient lighting now accounts for 80% of all U.S. lighting sales.

LEDs use 85 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs. Going on an estimate of 1 billion LEDs and CFLs now in U.S. homes, operating three hours per day, Davis estimated an energy savings so far of 50 billion kilowatt-hours per year, or 160 kilowatt-hours per capita, which was about equal to the decline in residential consumption he found. The total decline in my chart above comes to 1,161 kilowatt-hours per capita, which still leaves a lot of electricity savings to explain away — but LEDs and CFLs are surely cutting electricity use in commercial and industrial settings, too.

The savings are really just getting started. LED bulbs were in fewer than 30 percent of U.S. homes in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and constituted the majority of bulbs in fewer than 5 percent. After crunching the numbers from a September government report on the energy impact of solid-state lighting.

reduce annual retail electric sales by 300 billion kWh under a “current path” and by 435 billion kWh under a more aggressive path.