I believe that you're right about the changes in attitude that will occur with the reduced energy required per unit of light with LEDs. It's human nature. People will use more lights when lights use less energy.
However, we have the power to pull a fast one on human nature. As LED prices come down, making them commercially viable, general semiconductor prices are going down as well.
There's intelligent lighting in the house. It's a very familiar topic at this point. We may have more lights in the room, but we can design those lights so that they only put the light where and when it's needed.
Perhaps there's a design in someone's head out there for intelligent street lighting. LEDs go on and off instantly. When they are powerful and economical enough to replace high intensity street lamps, they can go off when no one is around. The big lights have to stay on constantly because of the start up energy, thermal stress and a number of other issues. LEDs won't have those problems.
We could but up ten times the number of outdoor lights but leave them off until a person or car is in close proximity. That could dramatically reduce power consumption while making streets safer at night and reducing light pollution.
Air conditioning depends on the location. Here in Texas, many people die in the summer because they don't have air conditioning. When I was young, we had evaporative cooling and it wasn't that hot, even outside. Now that everyone has refrigerated cooling, it seems much hotter outside. I tell my kids that it is because of all of those compressors running outside heating up the air.
"Everyone saved energy and the electric company sent a notice that because of reduced generation they had to raise their rates to cover their facility expansion and maintenance needs."
While *individual* usage may drop, *total* demand continues to rise. At some point, your utility is looking at building new capacity to meet the demand. That costs *money*. Where does the money come from? It's going to be reflected in your rates.
" As our cars get more efficient and we use mass transit the oil companies raise their prices to continue a steady revenue stream."
It's nowhere near that simple, and price at the pump has far more to do with the futures market than the price at the wellhead.
Yes, I can buy that, but in a sense that's the best of all worlds.
If the ultimate goal is to preserve scarce resources and the environment in general, then we cannot merely make it easy for people to become even more slovenly and wasteful than they already are. The best of all worlds being, the higher efficiency products allow people to live at least as well as before, while doing far less damage to the environment.
Keeping costs where they need to be, so that people don't act irresponsibly out of sheer self-indulgence, is part of the picture. Otherwise, we'd get nowhere. One step ahead, two steps back.
Don't add cost saving in your equations! You can be sure that if your usage goes down the price per Kilowatt will go up. That is exactly what happened to us after the electric company started their save energy advertizing campaign. Everyone saved energy and the electric company sent a notice that because of reduced generation they had to raise their rates to cover their facility expansion and maintenance needs. My bills are exactly the same as they were last year even though I am using less energy. The same is true for all our energy providers. As our cars get more efficient and we use mass transit the oil companies raise their prices to continue a steady revenue stream.
I dropped my flashlight from a ladder. Luckily, because it has an LED bulb, it worked fine after I picked it up. Also, my NiMH cells never deplete when using the LED, as they used to before with a less bright halogen bulb. This just goes to show two clear advantages of LED lighting. Durability and energy efficiency.
It would take installing 5 lights of equal lumen output to the previous one incandescent, to undo the advantage of LED lighting. And the efficiency is only increasing, as these bright LEDs evolve. But sure, even a good thing can be abused.
I don't count this as "law of unintended consequences." To me, an unintended consequence is not that we can get more well lit streets for less energy, but more something along the lines of pollution when you have to dispose of them. In other words, an obvious liability. If we can avoid the constraints that forced us to have poorly lit streets previously, for example, that's supposed to be a good thing.
"The benefit of solid-state lighting is usually presented thus; you can have the same amount of light for much less energy outlay. That's good for the householder and good for the planet. It may not be so good for the energy supply company but not many people care about that."
Can't speak for other areas, but I'm in NYC, and my power utility is ConEd. I'd say they are just *delighted*. Their problem is capacity constraints.
Power demand is constantly rising, and where will it come from? Building *new* generating capacity is fantastically expensive, and complicated by the fact that no one wants it built near *them*, and that political and regulatory issues will make it hard to get funding to build the new generating plants, because it will be hard to raise the rates to cover the financing costs.
ConEd is pushing conservation and energy efficiency as hard as they can in consequence. The last thing they want to do is build more generating stations. The more usage they can squeeze out of existing generating capacity, the happier they are.
This is a good point about the proliferating led lighting technology. It's not just the efficiency that encourages over-use, but new capabilities such as rgb units with color controllers. I myself am guilty of using a color unit with random color dynamics on my patio because they look cool, like a ufo is landing in my back yard. It's not completely necessary, but as an art form, what art is?
Well put, Peter.
Actually, until I interviewed NXP's CEO a few months ago (http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4371934/NXP-today---Practically-a-Chinese-company-?pageNumber=0), I didn't know what the third largest source of energy consumption at home was. It turns out it's lighting.
Clemmer was talking about this in the context of how China is “absolutely serious about ‘energy reduction,’” which is one of the key targets of China’s current five-year plan spanning to 2015.
LED or not, after all, turning off lights -- which my mother religiously did in every room of our house when we were growing up --was the right thing to do.