The Lowly Lightbulb Outshines Solar and Wind on U.S. Power Grids

Americans’ energy-conservation efforts, from switching bulbs to upgrading washing machines and air conditioners, have done more to reduce carbon emissions than the increased use of solar, wind and natural gas, according to consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. Efficiency can help meet half of the emissions cuts sought under President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy said.

“It’s a total bulb revolution,” Prajit Ghosh, director of power and renewables research at Wood Mackenzie in Houston, said Aug. 10 by phone. “The decline in load growth from both macroeconomic factors and energy-efficiency gains is by far the biggest reason carbon emissions fell. At least for the last five years, a majority of these savings came from lighting.”

Better Bulb

A switch from the incandescent lamps, which were introduced in the 19th century, was prompted by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that required lighting to become 25 percent to 30 percent more efficient by 2014 from 2008 levels.

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