Consumers in the United States have been witnessing the gradual disappearance of old general-purpose incandescent light bulbs from store shelves since 2012. This is happening because of the adoption of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which bans the manufacture and sale of certain bulbs. The 100-watt bulb was the first to go, phased out in 2012. It was followed by the 75-watt bulb this year. Now, as 2014 begins, 40- and 60-watt bulbs will begin to disappear as well. Retailers will be able to sell existing inventory, but no new bulbs with these wattages will be made.
A group called the American Lighting Association wants American consumers to understand that the bulbs that replace the incandescent ones, including LED bulbs, are much more energy efficient and long-lasting. While the upfront cost of an LED bulb may be higher than for an old 60-watt incandescent, the fact that the LED bulb can last up to 25 years, while using up to 85 percent less energy, should outweigh concerns about its cost. After all, the conventional incandescent bulb would need to be replaced several times in those 25 years, and would cost much more to run, so the cost is really no greater for the LED. Furthermore, the unit price of LED light bulbs is dropping all the time.
The drive to reduce Americans’ consumption of electricity, of which the ban on certain incandescent bulbs is part, is paying off. CBC News reports that the amount of electricity consumed in the average home in the US has fallen to levels seen more than ten years ago. Power usage has declined for the past three years, despite the fact that people are using more appliances and gadgets than ever.
Another fact that is likely to drive the widespread adoption of LED lighting is the inherent programmability of the lights. Because LED lights are made with semiconductors, they are easily controlled and dimmed. But this controllability makes them ideal for becoming nodes on “smart” networks, in the home or in commercial applications.
An LED street light can also be programmed to transmit information about, for example, the availability of street parking in the area around the light. LED lights in parking lots can be used in enhancing surveillance systems. Forbes magazine reports that El Salvador is installing LED technology throughout the country as part of its national security apparatus, including import/export controls.
In commercial applications, LED light networks can be used to enhance security in a building, or with routine tasks such as managing conference room availability. LED lights are also already being used to transmit information about products and special offers in stores.
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