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Can LED Lighting Save Our Planet?

Author: Sarah Wigmore
Published: July 22, 2014

Single-handedly probably not; however with the lighting market consuming almost 20% of the total electricity generated, LEDs can certainly make their mark.

A reduction in energy consumption and the promotion of renewable energy sources is moving higher up the agenda on a global level. The EU has ruled by 2020 that all new building structures should consume ‘nearly zero’ energy paving the way for eco-friendly light sources such as LEDs. The inefficient traditional incandescent bulb is firmly on its way out.

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Will The Future Be Bright?

What is an LED

An LED is known as ‘Solid State Lighting’ technology. Instead of the light being emitted from a vacuum (as in the incandescent bulb) or a gas (as in the CFL), it emits light from a solid piece of matter. One of the main advantages of LED technology is its incredible energy efficiency in comparison with its counterparts. The incandescent bulb converts only 10% of electricity into light, the remaining 90% being lost as heat. LEDs are up to 90% more efficient than incandescent sources.

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So what’s the environmental impact of LEDs in home lighting?

Market penetration continues to go from strength to strength for LED lighting. According to a 2012 report by McKinsey and Company on the global lighting market, forecasts for LED uptake in the residential segment remains high at almost 50% in 2016 and over 70% in 2020. With this rapid growth, fuelled by a reduction in unit prices and a requirement for energy efficient technology, this can only be good news for our environment.

As the LEDs sap far less energy when lighting up our homes this is not only beneficial to the planet but to our pockets too. A previous barrier to purchase was the initial outlay for the LEDs but with prices now being lower the predicted payback time is less than 2 years.

Could LEDs reduce the number of nuclear power plants?

As regulations become more stringent with regard to energy efficient light sources, it stands to reason that this could have an impact on the wider picture. It could potentially lead to a reduction in the number of nuclear power plants. Germany, for example, is committed to nuclear free production by 2022. Japan is also debating the feasibility of phasing out nuclear power plants.

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Lifespan of an LED

Another key environmental bonus with a switch to LED lighting is the lifespan of the bulb. There are now LED-based lighting fixtures on the market quoting a 100,000 hour lifespan (approximately 60 years). With the lifespan of an incandescent bulb being only 1-2 years, it is no contest. As well as increasing landfill, some light sources contain environmentally harmful chemicals such as mercury. When disposed of, toxic waste can seep into the soil. LEDs, although rarely requiring replacement, do not contain chemicals.
In addition, unlike many other light sources, LED lights do not emit harmful radiation rays which have a negative impact on our surroundings.

With experts anticipating that LED lighting technology will become the most widely used light source in the next 6 years, LEDs will certainly help to reduce the world’s carbon emissions. For a greener planet, the smart choice for your future lighting is LED. For our full range of LED lighting click here.

For more inspiration see our Lighting Ideas section.