Thinking Smart About Energy

Last week, the Washington Post brought together businessmen and women, government officials, lobbyists and advocates from across the country to discuss the future of energy consumption. The conversations ranged from automobiles to government regulations to business opportunities and covered everything in between. The Washington Post published several excerpts from the Smart Energy conference. My two favorite quotes are below:

You may want a more brilliant world; it doesn’t mean we need to consume more power to do it. If we do it smartly, we can actually consume a bit less and live a life that everyone likes regardless of what their taste is.  – Fred Maxik, Founder and CTO of Lighting Science Group

Maxik then went on to discuss microprocessors inside light bulbs that will communicate with you in terms of dimming and color control.  He explained that lighting is undergoing an amazing transition. “It could be a light bulb that’s just so smart that it detects sunlight coming through the window [and] starts dimming until you get the light that you desire,” he said.

Remember my post on 2011 being the year for smart lighting? In the commercial sector, this technology is exploding because it offers extremely high return on investment. Maxik’s quote also reminded me of Lighting Science Group’s partnership with Google to create an LED light bulb controllable by an Android device. I haven’t heard anything about this since May, when the prototype was announced. I believe the predicted release date was this fall. Has anyone heard recent news about the Android-controlled LED light bulb?

Another great quote came from Alex Baker of the Environmental Protection Agency:

If you put your hand on top of anything that consumes electricity, you’ll find that it’s warm. And energy efficiency really means moving toward things that do what they’re supposed to do without wasting electricity and energy and heat. So that’s really, I think, what’s going to happen with lighting. They’re going to become cooler and cooler. We’ll get more of what we want from them. And as a result also you’ll end up spending less electricity on cooling your home to offset all of that heat from light bulbs. I love the question about whether a CFL [compact fluorescent light bulb] or an LED is better, because the fact is, whether it’s incandescent, CFL or LED, you can make one that’s great or that’s really terrible. I can design an LED bulb that will last an hour. I can also design one that’ll last 100,000 hours, theoretically. – Alex Baker, Lighting Program Manager of ENERGY STAR

That’s a simple concept that’s all too easy to forget. Quality matters, first and foremost, every time. An LED is not always the best option simply because it’s the newest technology. Just ask lighting designer James Bedell, who recently tested an $8 LED A-Lamp and found the performance sorely lacking.

Thinking smart about energy efficiency means looking past the hype from manufacturers and marketing claims. Even the Department of Energy publishes reports that LEDs are not always the answer.

We do our best at Pegasus Lighting to be clear about product performance (and we don’t sell products that don’t pass our president’s quality inspection), but we are always open to hearing ideas about how we can do things better – so let us know if you’ve got one.

Emily Widle

Emily graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism. She enjoys scouring the news to report on the latest in the lighting industry as well as bringing valuable remodeling tips and exemplar home projects to light.