They are cheaper and better than ever, and doing it can cut energy consumption for lighting by up to 90 percent.
Climate scientist Michael Mann got all UPPER-CASY on Twitter this weekend, noting that individual actions don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world:
NO! We CANNOT SOLVE THIS THROUGH VOLUNTARY PERSONAL ACTIONS alone. That's truly dangerous (I mean, civilization-threatening) rhetoric. We need policies and economic incentivizes to shift behavior. Come on, this is Behavior Change 101 stuff...— Michael E. Mann (@MichaelEMann) January 20, 2019
But there is one personal individual action that really does make a difference, quickly and inexpensively; and that is changing all your light bulbs to LED. As mentioned in an earlier post, it isn't a minor improvement in efficiency, but a dramatic reduction of 90 percent, if you don't go buy more light fixtures or leave them on all the time. That's why when I renovated my house, I changed every single light bulb to LEDs, even getting rid of all the compact fluorescents.
Writing in the Guardian, Patrick Collinson describes how retired engineer Rodney Birks changed every bulb in his home, and thinks that the entire country should.
Birks, 72, can’t quite work out why the government and millions of households are ignoring the single, simple way we can all cut the electricity bill for lighting our homes by 90%.
It will shave nearly £2bn off the energy bills for Britain’s 25m homes. It requires just a small investment, that will be repaid within three to four months – and give you a payback lasting more than 20 years. It will stop as much as 8m tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere and the energy saved at peak time equates to the output of three power stations the size of Hinkley Point C. And all you have to do is change a light bulb.
Birks notes that there is nothing else you can do that has such a bang.
If you change your fridge or freezer to an A+++ appliance, you’ll probably get about an extra 20% energy efficiency. But if you change your lights, the new LEDs are 10 times more efficient that the bulbs they replace. There’s nothing like it in terms of electrical efficiency.
When I made my switch four years ago, I noted that it was getting cheaper: "There is a wide range of bulbs now available for under ten bucks." Today, they are under two bucks each. The color and quality of light is almost as good as incandescent; in some, like the new CREE bulbs, it is really indistinguishable. They come in all kinds of sizes for every kind of fixture, from my mother-in-law's crystal chandelier to my Italian designer fixture, even as archaic three-way bulbs. And it is easy to do, as Birks notes:
I would like to emphasize that although I am an engineer I have not done anything difficult or technical. I want everyone to understand it is easy to do for most lights in an average home. I have just bought the bulbs and plugged them in. Anyone can do it – it is as easy as changing a light bulb!
Really, any government that cared about reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions would just give them away for free; it is probably the cheapest thing they could do. But since they don't, we should all just go out and do it ourselves.
I am always surprised to find that people haven't done this. So here is a survey. If you have not changed all your bulbs, please tell us why in comments.