Happy Energy Efficiency Day: Buy an LED Bulb to Celebrate

This blog was authored by Pat Remick, NRDC’s senior energy communications strategist and one of NRDC’s many energy efficiency enthusiasts.

It’s officially Energy Efficiency Day so why not celebrate the virtues of smarter energy use—and the savings—by joining the Light Bulb Challenge and pledging to swap out at least one old, energy-guzzling bulb for an LED that can last for years while reducing your utility bill?

Did you know that the average U.S. household has around 40 lighting sockets and more than 2 billion sockets nationwide still contain inefficient bulbs?

If every U.S. household replaced just one old bulb with an LED, our nation’s electric bill would be cut by more than $5 billion and we’d avoid 2 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution—in just 10 years.

In fact, as my colleague Noah Horowitz likes to say: “Few actions can reduce the dangerous carbon pollution driving climate change as cheaply and easily as the simple act of installing more energy-efficient light bulbs in place of the current incandescents.”

Think about that: You can fight climate change by buying LED bulbs because we won’t need to generate as much energy by burning fossil fuels. Given that LEDs today cost as little as $2.50 each in a multipack, that’s a small price to pay to help fight a really big problem.

And by buying that $2.50 bulb, you could save $50 to $100 on your utility bills over its lifetime. LEDs use at least 75 percent less energy than the old-fashioned incandescents of our youth, and last up to 25 times longer. That also means you don’t have to go out and buy a new bulb every year.

More (easy) ways to celebrate

You don’t have to stop at one bulb, either. And efficiency is about more than light bulbs: It’s the most productive and cost-effective way to meet America’s energy needs. Here are a few more simple ways to easily save energy (and money):

  • Shut off appliances and electronics when you’re not using them.
  • Switch off lights when you’re done in a room.
  • Turn down the heat by a degree or two, or turn the A/C up a few notches – you’ll still be comfortable.
  • Close curtains and blinds to keep a room warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
  • Seal leaks around windows and doors.
  • Use a programmable thermostat to schedule cooling and heat only when you’re home or waking up – not when you’re away or asleep.
  • Clean or change furnace filters regularly. (A dirty filter slows air flow, making the system work harder and costing you more.)
  • Look for ENERGY STAR™ bulbs, appliances, and equipment. The blue label makes it easy to find products that have been independently certified to use less energy.

A lot of efficiency to celebrate

NRDC’s new annual energy report, America’s Clean Energy Revolution, published this week says energy efficiency deserves a great deal of credit for the fact that the U.S. economy grew by 17 percent between 2005 and 2016 while carbon dioxide emissions fell by 14 percent—and our energy use remained flat.

My colleague Elisheva Mittelman writes in her Energy Efficiency Day blog today about some of the great progress the nation and individual states have made when it comes to energy efficiency—which also has created 2.2 million jobs in our country—and the enormous amount of untapped potential that remains. 

In fact, NRDC’s recently released blueprint for cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050—the level scientists say we need to reach to avoid the worst impacts of climate change—says we can use efficiency to cut energy use in half. And we can use efficiency and other existing technologies to meet our target. States and cities can make enormous progress, but we’ll also need federal policies.

And efficiency to worry about

Unfortunately, the Trump administration and some in Congress want to decimate federal energy efficiency initiatives. ENERGY STAR is one of many important federal energy efficiency programs on the chopping block.

Axing ENERGY STAR, which helps us identify the most efficient products on the market, would affect far more than light bulbs: It saves utility customers a whopping $30+ billion on utility bills every year, and it helps drive American competitiveness in an increasingly efficiency-conscious global market. Meanwhile, your refrigerator, washing machine, and about 70 other types of products are using less energy today—and saving every U.S. household about $500 a year—because of efficiency standards set by the Department of Energy. The federal office overseeing those standards also might be sharply cut.

So let’s shine a light on the benefits of energy efficiency today. Join NRDC and the more than 230 organizations businesses, and cities—together representing millions of people—that are officially participating in #EEDay2017. Take the Energy Efficiency Day Light Bulb Challenge: Retire at least one old-school bulb, and encourage your friends to do the same.

About the Authors

Sheryl Carter

Codirector, Energy program

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