THE BLOG
09/23/2014 04:25 pm ET Updated Nov 23, 2014

LEDs Are An Important Climate Change Solution

The People's Climate March raised awareness about how important it is to find and use technologies that will help save energy, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and start to reverse climate change. One of the most promising and affordable technologies is LED light bulbs, also known as LEDs.

WHY SHIFT TO LEDS? The Three P's...

Making the shift to energy-efficient lighting offers big benefits for people, the planet and our pocketbooks.

PEOPLE -- LED bulbs help reduce air pollution, making the air healthier to breathe for kids and others who suffer from asthma, heart disease and many respiratory ailments.

  • Reduce air pollution -- Most household energy still comes from coal-burning power plants. About 12 percent of the energy we use at home powers our lighting -- from ceiling fixtures and under-counter lights to table and bedside lamps. An LED bulb uses 70-90 percent less energy than a standard bulb, limiting the need to burn that much more coal.

PLANET -- Speaking of energy, if every household replaced just one light bulb with one certified by the federal Energy Star program, we would save enough energy to light two million homes for a whole year.

  • •Reduce climate change -- We would also prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that of 550,000 vehicles. LED bulbs are a terrific way to fight climate change.

POCKETBOOK -- Any time we save energy, we save money. Though an LED bulb costs a little more up front, it can save $80 in electricity costs over the lifetime of the product.

PLUS -- LED technology is so efficient, one bulb can last as long as 22 years or 25,000 hours. That's particularly convenient for hard-to-reach places like ceilings and outdoor fixtures.

WHAT LED BULB SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?

As with other bulbs, you can get LEDs that provide different amounts of light. LEDs provide light in lumens, while incandescents are sold according to how bright they are in terms of watts. Most LED bulb packages will give you the wattage the LED is replacing. For example, this LED bulb replaces a 60 watt incandescent.

In addition to the light of the bulb, the label makes a difference. Most people who go shopping for an LED bulb probably look for the words "energy-saving," which any company can slap on any bulb. What they really need to be looking for is the Energy Star label. Bulbs that have earned the Energy Star save significant amounts of energy and money because they are independently certified to use less energy, undergoing extensive testing to ensure high quality and the performance you expect. These three funny videos make clear why certified LED bulbs are more effective than non-certified bulbs.

With 70 percent of U.S. light sockets still containing inefficient bulbs, the potential is huge for American consumers to find lighting options that save them energy, money and help protect the environment from climate change. LED bulbs are quickly gaining steam as the most innovative and long lasting alternative to incandescent bulbs.

Disclosure: I am a long-time advocate of energy efficiency and technology like LED bulbs. I am working as a consultant on this project to help educate the public about the value of Energy Star LED bulbs in the fight to stop climate change.