Read the full story in the Washington Post.
When I was a kid, my dad followed behind me, shutting off the incandescent lights I left burning around the house. “You’re wasting energy,” he’d scold as I tried to slip out of the room. He was right, of course. In the 1980s, 5 to 10 percent of an average household’s electricity bill went to keeping the lights on. So when my own son was born last June, my dad joked he was waiting for the day when his grandson would exact his revenge on my utility bill.
Luckily for me, this day will never come. I’ve been rescued by LED lights, now the primary lighting source for about half of U.S. homes. LEDs are wafers of semiconducting material that emit as much light as incandescent bulbs while using about 10 percent of the electricity. Later this year, incandescent bulbs will disappear from store shelves for good as new federal efficiency standards take effect. If it isn’t already, your home lighting will soon be a rounding error on your energy budget.
Yet many people still sound like my dad. When you ask Americans how they save energy at home, “turn off the lights” has been at the top of the list since the 1980s. But when it comes to actual savings, it doesn’t even crack the top 10. Like most conventional wisdom about how to reduce householdenergy and emissions, much of what we believe about our homes and appliances is wrong.
It’s time to update our thinking.