On Friday, the Department of Energy announced that $37 million from the stimulus would go toward research and development projects for LEDs, the lighting normally found in TVs and computer screens that could also be used as more efficient home lighting.
From the New York Times's Green Inc. blog:
This is the sixth round of Energy Department funding for solid-state lighting projects, but the first time money has been given to develop better manufacturing technologies. According to the department, the focus on manufacturing is part of a new initiative to accelerate adoption of LEDs by improving quality and cost – while also encouraging production in the United States.
A considerable amount of LED manufacturing occurs in Asia, according to the department’s solid-state lighting research and development plan. The plan states that developing advanced automation methods could improve product consistency, reduce labor content and potentially make domestic production “a more attractive option than it is today.”
Lighting accounts for about 24 percent of the total electricity generated in the United States, and the Department of Energy estimates that LEDs – which have the potential to be 10 times more energy efficient than traditional incandescents – could shrink electricity use for lighting by a third nationally by 2030.
I've always been shocked at how reluctant even progressive people are to do relatively simple things that not only use less electricity but help them use it more efficiently. I've gotten used to carrying compact fluorescent bulbs, already more efficient than incandescents, from apartment to apartment to conserve. They last a long time and my electricity bill is always lower. It's such a simple, worry-free change that I don't know why more of us don't do it.
There seems to be a reluctance to make tiny changes that ultimately have little affect on a problem as big as global warming. Changes do matter in the aggregate. If researching LEDs for expanded use helps people make the switch, then it's worth the investment. But there are already simple improvements people resist.
-- Monica Potts