A bright idea for energy conservation

A bright idea for energy conservation

Photo Credits: CLTC / UC DAVIS

University of California participates in the Million Light Bulb Challenge

The University of California launched The Million Light Bulb Challenge to replace one million incandescent light bulbs for high-quality, energy-efficient LED light bulbs in campus buildings and residences to encourage the reduction of carbon footprints and energy usage. All UC students, staff, faculty, alumni and retirees can purchase high-quality LED light bulbs through the Community Buy program.

“Lighting can make up a significant part of household energy use within California,” said Michael Siminovitch, director of the California Lighting Technology Center and professor in the Department of Design at UC Davis. “In terms of numbers, lighting can be 30 percent of the energy using a typical home so moving to high performance LED technology could easily reduce that number by 80 percent. Switching from incandescent lamps to high-performance high-quality LED can produce very large savings in lighting energy use.”

An added benefit of switching to energy-efficient lighting is that it lasts longer, which means there is significantly less maintenance involved with replacement. Since the energy-efficient lamps provided through this program still offer quality color and service, it allows consumers to be energy-efficient without compromising on quality.

“By selecting a high-quality light bulb, the chances that you will like the light just as much as the incandescent light increase and the chances that you will take the LED light bulb out and put your incandescent back in decrease,” said Nicole Graeber, development engineer at the California Technology Lighting Center. “This results in persistent savings over time, and that adds up.”

Switching to high-quality, energy-efficient lamps could be expensive upfront, but the energy savings could help consumers save money on their monthly energy bills.

“If you are currently using incandescent [over LEDs], you can save over 80 percent on your lighting energy bill [by switching to LEDs] and that can be over $100/month [in savings] for the average home,” said Jeremy Meadows, project sponsor and manager.

This program involved the difficult task of getting all government agencies, including UC campuses, CSU campuses, community colleges and the California Department of General Services to agree to standardize on the specification of the lightbulbs. However, the impact of switching out one million light bulbs could be worth it. Replacing one million incandescent light bulbs with LED lights could decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 41,461 metric tons, the equivalent of removing 8,900 passenger vehicles from the road every year.

Written by: Kriti Varghese — science@theaggie.org