It doesn’t take a market evaluation to determine which country is the largest consumer of energy. Recognized as one of the most powerful and developed nations in the world, America was responsible for 20 percent of global primary energy consumption in 2006 and is reported to have consumed 99.4 quadrillion Btu (quads) of primary energy in 2008. (Source: EIA, 2009)
Energy use in the United States has been growing steadily since 1949, with the exception of a plunge in the mid-1970s as a result of the oil crisis. The energy consumed today by America is double of what was used up in 1963 and almost 40 percent higher than what it was in 1975. The only saving grace is the country’s readiness to recognize the potential for improved energy efficiency and accordingly, prioritize the efficient use of energy by widely adopting energy efficient lighting, heating, cooling, transport and computing technologies across every cross-section of the society.
Until a few years back, opportunities for energy efficient lighting did not strike an attractive pose for the housing segment, businesses, industries or municipal sectors, owing to the huge purchase price of efficient lighting systems. Not many realized that the cost savings over time positively outweighed the initial costs of these energy saving measures.
However, unprecedented investments in efficient lighting technology are making it easier and more affordable for American homes and businesses to retrofit their buildings with LEDs and other energy saving lighting solutions. According to a recent market research, the sale of traditional light bulbs in several European countries has dropped by 35 percent in the first quarter of 2009, with LEDs accounting for 65 percent of sales.
Considering the fact that America has approximately 81 million single-family homes, 25 million multi-family housing units, 7 million mobile homes and 75 billion square feet of floor space contained within 5 million commercial buildings, it does not come as a surprise when EIA reports state that residential and commercial buildings accounted for 73 percent of total electricity used in the United States in 2008.
Within the next twenty years or so, if all buildings in America were to be upgraded with energy efficient lighting, the surging demand in lighting electricity can be reduced by as much as 33 percent, generating energy savings of around $265 billion. By using efficient lighting for just one-twentieth of all the homes in the United States, the government can definitely, avoid the need for 13 new medium-sized (300MW) power plants every year.
Buildings are the largest source of energy efficiency in America and steps are being taken by all Americans to make their home or business energy-efficient in every sense of the word. This conclusion is supported by the fact that more than 8,000 single-family households in America applied for the federal tax credit for 50 percent savings during the first year of its availability.
America’s energy saving initiative for the next few years is bound to overcome all barriers in the domestic and commercial use of energy efficient lighting technologies, thereby lowering annual electricity use and contributing to a greener environment.