How Many Energy- Efficient Light Bulbs Does It Take to Close 705 Coal Plants?

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The swiftest, way to reduce the electricity worldwide is simply to change light bulbs. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are the first advance in this field. If we were to replace old-fashioned bulbs with CFLs it would be able to reduce electricity use by three fourths, which could cut electricity bills by roughly $30. CFLs can cost twice as much as the incandescent bulbs but it is able to last 10 times as long, and can reduce the energy of the incandescent uses equivalent of 200 pounds of coal over its lifetime.

The sales in the United States have climbed from 21 million CFLs in 2000 to 397 million in 2007, which is an estimated 4.7 billion light sockets in the United States, close to 1 billion now have CFLs. Australia, Canada, and European Union, Brazil, and China have either phased out incandescent bulbs are have plans in affect to have the incandescent bulb replaced by the CFLs in their near future.

With retailers such as Wal-Mart and Britain’s largest electrical retail chain either making campaigns against incandescent bulbs or to discontinue them all together have made strides to make CFLs become an item more people are purchasing.

Burning the coal needed to power one incandescent light bulb releases much more mercury into the atmosphere than the amount contained in a CFL. Linear (tubular) fluorescents and light-emitting diode (LED) are becoming more common in bigger buildings; LEDs use 85 percent less electricity than the incandescent bulb. New York City replaced traditional bulbs with LEDs which lead to the cut of the annual bill for maintenance and electricity by 6 million dollars. Los Angeles soon followed and saved the taxpayers $48 million in the next seven years; the amount of reduction in carbon emissions was equivalent to taking 7,000 cars off the road.

Indeed, a typical LED installed at the time of a child’s birth will still be working when the person graduates from college. Also energy can be saved by simply turning off the lights when they are not in use. There is an increase in the production of smart lighting technologies which can cut the electricity use of LEDs to less than 10 percent that of incandescents. If we added more CFLs and LEDs into factories, commercial outlets, office buildings we would be able to save enough energy to close 705 of the world’s 2,670 coal-fired plants.


Title: How Many Energy- Efficient Light Bulbs Does It Take to Close 705 Coal Plants?

Source: Earth Policy Institute, 6/16/2010

Author: Lester R. Brown


Student Researcher: Jenna Russett, Sonoma State University

Faculty Evaluator: Elaine Wellin, Sonoma State University