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Updated on May 9, 2010

Suddenly, and LED lit up in my brain

For years I have been an advocate of a permanent ban on incandescent lighting. We have had the technology, using both energy efficient fluorescent and now LED lighting to save huge quantities of energy and therefore to reduce our use of fossil fuel consumption and pollution for long enough. The same is true for the fuel savings we could easily achieve in our motor vehicles, but then the big oil companies would be smaller and very unhappy. Let's stick with lighting for purposes of this hub.

In terms of CO2 and greenhouse gases, our national consumption of electricity is responsible for roughly one third of the problem. So, it would seem obvious that we should convert to lighting that saves electricity and therefore reduces the burning of fossil fuels. If we combine the commercial side of life, office buildings and similar structures, with the residential side we see well more than half of our nation's electric use. Imagine how many lights there are in our commercial buildings. A simple switch to LED lighting except perhaps for decorative purposes such as certain types of signs and display lighting and perhaps some safety lights would save hundreds of billions of pounds of toxic emissions annually and untold money.

It is  so easy to start: all federal buildings should be converted immediately. This would also be a jobs program and a stimulus program. Instead of paying Jim Gordon and other wind developers billions of dollars in cash subsidies, let's put some serious money into a lighting retrofit for every federal building, civilian and military in the country. Then we require every state to do the same on the theory that we could always cut off all their federal energy subsidies and other programs, such as stimulus and ARRA money. Blackmail or extortion?.....Don't know and don't care. Soon we would arrive at colleges and universities who receive federal funds of various descriptions...they must convert also. What is wrong with saving 95% of the electricty we now use for lighting?

The high cost of LEDs is a problem, a large problem. But, we seem to have no difficulty shoveling money into wars and foreign aid and bailing out billionaires. Surely there is a way to craft a program to ease the burden of LED conversion. Perhaps a tax credit to homeowners in the form of a voucher that can redeemed at a retail dealer of LEDs, but only for LEDs. Unless classic economic rules do not apply to LED lighting, a significant increase in demand would lower prices significantly.

Residential and commercial building codes could be amended to require LED lighting in all new construction and remodeling after a date certain. Existing stocks of incandescent and conventional fluorescent bulbs would be allowed to run down to zero, and they may not be restocked after a known future date. Those manufacturers who choose not to retrofit for LED production will simply join the buggy whip makers in the bread lines. Certainly giants such as GE can figure it out, if, that is, GE would not prefer to remain more interested in producing large wind turbines.

The best way to show we are serious as a nation about energy conservation and the reduction of toxic emissions is to do something about it. Far better to cut our domestic residential and commercial electric use for lighting by up to 95% than to pay hundreds of millions of dollars at a time to wind developers in return for intermittent, expensive energy. Even Slick Salazar would have to agree.

If we can give multimillionaire wind developers such as Jim Gordon hundreds of millions of dollars in tax payer subsidies with a straight face surely we can figure out a way to retrofit the nation with LED lighting.

Copyright 2010 By Peter A. Kenney


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