As a young child, my bare feet constantly interacted with the soil and water of the land I grew up on. Looking back now, it's easy to say the land was nothing short of a sibling to me. This connection was never more apparent to me than when the BP oil spill ravaged that sibling. I have never felt more vulnerable in my life. Since then, I’ve started a foundation emphasizing collaboration and encouraging both corporations and individuals to make smarter, more evolved choices to protect and sustain our planet. Unfortunately, as much as I try, I'm still in awe of how much energy we all waste. Whether I am walking, driving, or even on set, I am surrounded by massive amounts of wasted energy consumption.
I looked up some statistics. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average U.S. home has about 30 light fixtures and according to the Energy Information Association (EIA), lighting accounts for nearly 13 percent of electricity spending in the average household. Most of those light bulbs are traditional incandescents. The incandescent bulb is more than 130 years old and converts most of its energy to heat rather than light, which produces a significant amount of wasted energy. Look, we’re all guilty of some unnecessary energy consumption, but we have the power to make informed choices that alter our predicted environmental future. These changes don't have to be difficult or expensive. Tangible and accessible solutions are readily available and they can be as simple as screwing in a different light bulb.
Through my company Go Green Mobile Power, I’ve done a lot of work with LED (light-emitting diode) lights — the most energy-efficient lighting. It was through my work with Go Green Mobile Power that I discovered a great company doing great things — Cree. They are empowering us all with the ability to bring LED technology into our homes for everyday use. It’s exciting and we are working together to make old, dinosaur energy-wasting incandescent light bulbs obsolete.
It was Edison himself who said — “There’s a way to do it better…find it.” Cree did. I am honored to be a part of the game-changing work they’re doing. They’ve made a light bulb that looks and lights just like the incandescent bulbs we’re all used to, but, uses 84 percent less energy and lasts 25 times longer.
While a typical incandescent bulb uses 60 watts of power to generate light, current LED technology can produce the same light for less than 10 watts. This means monetary savings and less physical waste because the bulbs last longer. All of that translates to less wasted energy, less wasted cash and an ability to dramatically reduce what ends up in landfills.
Switching to LED lighting over the next two decades could save $250 billion in energy costs. Can you imagine what we could do with $250 billion? In recent years, numerous businesses have implemented LED lighting upgrades and experienced significant benefits. Government agencies have also utilized LED lighting technology to reduce their environmental impact. I’ve even made efforts to reduce the energy that is wasted on my sets by implementing more efficient lighting.
To be honest, I really didn’t like a lot of the efficient alternatives to the dinosaur incandescent bulbs of yesterday. They came in odd shapes, they did not work with dimmer switches and they cast grey and green hues that were far from pleasant. On top of all that, they cost a small fortune! Cree has it figured out. They have a light bulb that works like the incandescent bulbs we are all used to — a real glass bulb that is nearly indistinguishable from a traditional incandescent bulb. They are dimmable and the light that they create is natural and gorgeous. What excites me the most is that Cree truly has the opportunity to shift a mass of our population into energy savers because these bulbs are genuinely affordable at $10 a pop. As if that weren't awesome enough, these bulbs last more than 25,000 hours, nearly 22 years, depending on use, and use 84 percent less energy than traditional incandescents. Those numbers just make sense. This is the real deal and a very real way we can all make an impact.
Ian Somerhalder is an actor on the popular CW show "The Vampire Diaries" and an environmental activist.
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