Over a quarter of carbon emissions come from the home. According to Great Britain’s housing energy fact file, a report drawn up by the government, energy use for lighting has increased by 66% since 1970 despite widespread take up of low energy lights. This usage needs to come back down; it can and it will with LED lighting.

LED lights are a favourite for eco-friendly homeowners and businesses. Not only do they save you masses of money on your energy bill, but this goes hand-in-hand with reducing your carbon footprint, in even more ways than you originally thought! But how exactly do LED lights reduce your carbon footprint?

1. The energy efficiency of LED lights means an 85% reduction in energy consumption. With LED lights energy is spent on creating light not heat, unlike incandescent and fluorescent equivalents. This heat production in incandescent and fluorescents is completely wasted energy because a huge proportion of the available electricity isn’t going toward producing visible light.

2. Unlike fluorescent lighting, LED lights contain no hazardous materials, like mercury, which can give off dangerous gases when being disposed of. Unless recycled by a specialist, mercury is released into the ground and eventually into the water supply. The dangers of mercury content in CFL bulbs cannot be stressed enough – exposure to the mercury neurotoxin used in CFL lights is highly toxic to humans. This makes LEDs the safest lighting solution for any home or workspace.

3. As LED lights do not produce heat unlike incandescent and fluorescent lights, air-conditioning needs and costs are reduced, thus even less energy is consumed.

4. LED lights shine in only one direction; they are more efficient in application than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, which waste energy by emitting light in all directions.

5. Good quality LED lights are approved by ROHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substance Directive) and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), a directive which sets collection, recycling and recovery targets for electrical goods and is part of a legislative initiative to solve the problem of huge amounts of toxic e-waste.

6. The majority of the components in LED lights are recyclable. Because LED bulbs don’t contain mercury and aren’t considered a hazardous material, they may be safely recycled. What’s more, they can be disassembled so parts can be disposed of individually.

7. LEDs have an extremely long lifespan, with some lights lasting up to 50,000 hours. Compare this with a standard incandescent which lasts on average 2000 hours or a fluorescent which lasts on average 6,000 to 15,000 hours and you will realize just how energy efficient they are.

8. The guaranteed high longevity presents many benefits for the environment. For starters, it means less need for replacement, thus less waste ending up on landfill sites. Whereas with incandescent equivalents you would have thrown out about 50 light bulbs in 15 years, with LEDs you will have only thrown out one (by means of recycling!). A factor which also adds enhances its longevity even more so is the absence of glass components; LED bulbs are consequently not vulnerable to vibration or breakage like conventional bulbs so less need for replacements.

9. This remarkable longevity of LED lights also means lesser need for shipping, which then leads to lesser demand for fuel, an energy source that will eventually become scarce due to our ever growing consumer needs. The environmental impact of shipping includes greenhouse gas emissions and oil pollution; the risk of oil spills is significantly reduced when shipping is in less demand. 3.5-4% of all climate change emissions are caused by shipping, carbon dioxide emissions from shipping is estimated to be 4-5% of the global total, and estimated by the International Maritime Organization to rise by up to 72% by 2020 if no action is taken. Exhaust emissions from ships are considered to be a significant source of air pollution, standing at 18 to 30% of all nitrogen oxide and 9% of sulphur oxide pollution. Sulphur in the air creates acid rain which damages crops and buildings and when inhaled sulphur is known to cause respiratory problems and even increase the risk of a heart attack.

10. Since LED lighting is constantly evolving in terms of standards, lumen output and energy efficiency, we will see them become even more environmentally friendly and we will see the energy use for lighting reduce significantly thanks to LED lighting. This week for example, Cree achieved a ground-breaking industry-best efficacy record of 276 lumens per watt for a white power LED.

LED lighting is an exceptional contributor to energy efficiency, but manufacturers, scientists, engineers and politicians now need to make energy efficiency as easy as with LED lighting for all household appliances.

By - Eleanor McKeon, Marketing Manager at LED lighting suppliers, Sedna LED Ltd