Switching to Efficient Lighting Could Save US $9B Annually

Cancun, Mexico — Phasing out energy-guzzling incandescent lighting for efficient alternatives could save the U.S. $9 billion a year and avoid roughly 45 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually. That's the equivalent of removing 11 million vehicles from the road, or bypassing the need to build 26 medium-sized coal-fired plants.

Energy-efficient lighting also carries the potential to save $5.5 billion a year in China, where energy use from lighting accounts for roughly 12 percent of electricity consumption.

At a time when energy use in expected to soar in coming years, lighting represents an attractive piece of low-hanging fruit, while also offering the potential for generating billions of dollars in savings and reducing the world's hefty carbon footprint. Up to 70 percent of lighting sales are made up of inefficient incandescent lamps, according to the U.N.

To highlight the opportunities, the U.N. Environment Programme and Global Environment Facility teamed up to assess the impact from switching from incandescent lighting to compact fluorescent light bulbs in 100 countries. Osram and Philips were also involved in the "en.lighten initiative," the partnership that launched the findings Wednesday at the climate change negotiations in Cancun.

"In reality, the actual economic benefits could be even higher," Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP executive director, said in a statement. "A switch to efficient lighting in Indonesia, for example, would avoid the need to build 3.5 coal-fired power stations costing US$2.5 billion and similar findings come from other country assessments."

The initiative's assessment pegged Indonesia's potential savings from a massive lighting retrofit to be about $1 billion a year, but as Steiner the noted, the savings could be greater if more inefficient lighting was phased out, such as inefficient tube lights or halogens.

The assessment offers a searchable map with an executive summary for each country, including information about avoided emissions, financial savings, and individual country lighting policies. A more detailed assessment is also available for each country.

For more information on the country lighting assessment, visit the en.lighten initiative website.