Switching to LED light bulbs could slash the risk of blackouts this winter

Greenpeace has released new research that shows a shift to Light Emitting Diode (LED) light bulbs in homes could reduce peak electricity demand in the winter by five per cent (2.7 GW).
The research was carried out by respected energy analyst Chris Goodall from who also runs website Carbon Commentary, and shows a business and government drive to promote switching of homes, street lights and offices to energy efficient LED light bulbs would see a huge reduction in the UK’s electricity demand for lighting – more than two Hinkley nuclear plants’ worth of electricity.
Even without a wholesale switch, it would be significant and should allay fears about the lights going out because lighting is responsible for nearly a third (29%) of total winter peak electricity demand, and a complete switch would halve that.
1. Savings from switching entirely to LED in homes will save about 2.7 GW of peak winter demand.
2. Street lighting switch will save a further 0.5 GW
3. Office and other commercial building could save about 4.5 GW of peak demand
4. An approximate payback period from switching the most used bulbs in the typical domestic house to LED is about 2 years at current prices. An expenditure of £62 on replacing about 21 of the bulbs in living areas would cut annual electricity bills by at least £24.
Greenpeace argues that this move could be done relatively quickly and the total cost of partially upgrading all UK homes to energy-efficient LED lights would be around £1.7 billion. The price of LED light bulbs is falling over time and now is just £1.60 each at major retailers. Although not directly comparable, it is notable that Moodys have anticipated annual cost of UK Capacity Market payments for securing adequate electricity generating capacity will rise to an anticipated £2 billion.
Aside from saving money for the householder directly, the government would conservatively save £65 million per year on capacity market payments from this action in houses and more elsewhere in street lighting and commercial sector.
Greenpeace is calling for the government to take a series of steps to drive LEDs rapidly into building use.
Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK’s Chief Scientist, said:
“Making our homes more energy efficient by switching our light bulbs to LEDs would offer a cost-effective solution to how to address tight winter margins over the next few years. It would also lead to permanent reduction in peak demand, thus decreasing the amount required to upgrade or replace the UK’s ageing gas, coal and nuclear power plants. It would also bring down bills for hard-up families.
“It is high time the government created an energy system that no longer relies on fossil fuels as part of a 21st Century industrial revolution that the UK should embrace. This should include a mix of renewable energy sources, battery storage and reduced electricity demand through new technologies including LED light bulbs and new inventions like smart fridges or air conditioning that turn themselves down at times of peak electricity demand but barely affect the temperature delivered.”