Greenspace: LED bulbs a bright idea

LED lights are up to 85 percent more efficient than conventional bulbs. LED lights also last longer than traditional CFL and incandescent lights, and save you money (along with energy) over the long run. You can now buy LED bulbs in which the brightness can be adjusted depending on your needs and preferences. (Getty Images)

In 2010, Mayo Clinic set a goal to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020.

The clinic met that goal in 2017.

One bright idea was the main reason the clinic reached its goal early — switching to LED lighting.

In a July interview, Brett Gorden, who is responsible for energy management at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus, said the lighting switch was an early big boost to reducing energy demand at Mayo's buildings.

The clinic’s next goal is to reduce energy use by 30 percent by 2025. For that, there aren’t many low hanging bulbs — cheap, easy ways to make a big cuts in energy use.


"I can see it will get tougher," Gorden said of further energy use reduction strategies. "They’re more capital-intensive programs."

Mayo Clinic is just one organization that has been part of a lighting revolution over the last decade. Light-emitting diodes — LEDs — are the most efficient light bulbs on the market, using up to 85 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs.

LEDs can last up to 25 years. They are much more efficient than halogen bulbs and more efficient than compact fluorescents, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

At home, the bulbs can reduce your energy bill. Across the U.S., switching to LEDs could have a global impact. Since 2010, people switching from incandescent bulbs to LEDs have cut the U.S.’s total household energy use by 6 percent since 2010, according to Lucas David, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

According to data from Appliance Standards Awareness Project which uses data from the Department of Energy, if every home in the U.S. switched to LEDs, we’d cut an estimated 38 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year — the equivalent of emissions from about 7 million cars.

The upfront cost of LEDs is slightly higher than incandescent bulbs, but technological improvements have resulted in a steady decline in prices. The savings and longevity of the bulbs more than make up the price difference.

LEDs come in a variety of colors, degrees of softness and intensities to meet pretty much any lighting need. All in all, LED bulbs are a pretty bright idea.

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