LED lights are bright, energy efficient, and you can find them in bike lights, flashlights, and calculators. So why aren’t they more popular in homes?

LED light panel

LEDs are expensive because their phosphors are made of rare-earth elements. But researchers at Rutgers University recently developed a new composition for LEDs – one that could cut their cost by up to 90 percent. That’s important because the U.S. Department of Energy is encouraging wide adoption of LEDs in order to cut electricity use for lighting in half by 2030.

Hicks: “There are some criticisms of that though.”

Andrea Hicks is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Hicks: “LED technology is considered an enabling technology in that it enables other devices and products that we didn’t have before.”

With cheaper lights, we’re likely to find new uses, put them in more places like custom-lit bars and cabinets, and leave them on longer. That could reduce the expected energy savings – a paradox called the rebound effect.

LEDs beat-out incandescent bulbs, but could this 'enabling technology' result in wasted use? Click To Tweet

So to maximize energy savings, it’s not enough to just switch to LEDs as they get cheaper. It will still be important to avoid wasteful uses and remember to turn off the lights when you’re done using them.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media/Justin Bull.
Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
The Lighting Paradox: Cheaper, Efficient LEDs Save Energy, and People Use More
About the Solid-State Lighting Program
New technology can expand LED lighting, cutting energy use and greenhouse gas emissions
The World’s Appetite for Light: Empirical Data and Trends Spanning Three Centuries and Six Continents
Emergent Effects of Residential Lighting Choices: Prospects for Energy Savings
The Many Uses of LED Lighting

Filed under: