“LEDs Will Light the Way”: Energy Conservationist Howard Sperling on Why LEDs are the Lights of the Future

As climate change becomes a real and pressing issue, businesses and consumers alike have found themselves in an important time of transition. Unfortunately, finding ways to help save the environment isn’t always as easy as picking up trash at the local park or bringing your own coffee cup to the café in the morning. This is leaving many people at a loss for ways of helping reduce waste without hurting their business, their home life, or their monthly budget.

For Howard Sperling, though, the answer is clear. A long-time energy conservation enthusiast, Sperling is known as a man with a passion for helping communities reduce their carbon footprint through the reduction of energy consumption. Instead of focusing on recycling aluminum cans or plastic bottles – a worthwhile endeavor, to be sure, but not nearly as effective for environmental conservation as other means – Sperling believes that the future of the environment as we know it today lies in the power of the lightbulb.

Howard Sperling

“It was like the proverbial light bulb popped up over my head when I got the idea. And no, the irony is not lost on me!” Howard is a jovial man, with bright eyes that make you want to believe in his solutions. He talks about the moment that he realized LED lighting might just be a major part of helping reduce our overuse of resources with such enthusiasm that it is impossible to ignore his message.

“The idea that the world will face an energy crisis in the next hundred or a thousand years is inevitable. That much, scientists can agree upon. With the world’s growing demands, there is more and more pressure on the planet’s resources, and those resources are finite.” Clearly, Mr. Sperling’s concern for the environment is a major part of his life, leading to hours of research in the realm of energy conservation. And his ideas are for everyone. “The solution,” he claims, “lies in the way we light up our world.”

Essentially, the impending energy crisis, according to Howard Sperling and other conservationists, is due to a few causes. While it’s tempting to place the blame solely on the coal industry or factory farming, the truth is a bit more complicated than that. Sperling explains that there are a few main culprits of our energy overuse: “Plain over-consumption of resources is the biggest reason, of course. Putting such a strain on our fossil fuel reserves is leading to the human race just using too much of the earth.” He continues that overpopulation, weak infrastructure, and not enough emphasis on clean or renewable energy sources are other leading factors.

But Howard Sperling has a plan, and it’s one that everyone can take part in. While there’s not much the average consumer or even large business can do about overpopulation, choosing energy-efficient products to replace traditional ones is an easy way to start. “Simply replacing traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights is an uncomplicated first step that pretty much anyone can do,” says Sperling.

The metaphorical electricity is palpable when he talks about how LEDs can change our energy consumption on a large scale. “Regular lights, those compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs can be really hazardous to the environment – they even contain mercury, which has to be disposed of in a special way that most people don’t know about. LEDs don’t contain any of those harmful materials and they use a lot less power.”

When he says that LED lights consume less energy than traditional bulbs, he isn’t lying: a six-watt LED produces over 800 lumens (the measurement of the brightness of a given light source). That’s the same amount of light that a sixty-watt incandescent bulb releases. Keep in mind, too, that the less energy needed to produce the same brightness, the lower the CO2 emissions, a leading cause of our current climate changes.

The simplicity of re-working the ways in which we bring artificial light to our indoor and outdoor spaces is paradoxically somewhat difficult to accept. How can simply changing the types of bulbs that we use really make that much of a difference in terms of energy conservation?

“The beauty of the solution is that it really is so easy to do. There are no gimmicks, there are no new habits to get into, nothing difficult. You just change all the light bulbs in your home from whatever traditional bulbs you have to an LED bulb. And the best part is that you only have to do this once a decade!”

- Howard Sperling

Again, what sounds like an exaggeration, is pretty accurate. Most LED lights will have a life of around 50,000 hours, which means that if you leave it on for 12 hours a day, you won’t have to change it for the next eleven years or so. It sounds incredible, but the engineering of LED lighting allows it to work in such a way that it can conserve energy much more efficiently than its traditional counterparts.

Unlike CFLs or incandescent lights, LEDs put out directional light; in other words, the light emitted is focused in a specific direction. CFLs, on the other hand, emit light (and heat) that goes off in all directions. Being focused in one direction means no light is lost and your room stays bright. The fact that LEDs come in a variety of colors is just an added bonus for those seeking out ways to conserve energy without losing efficiency.

Part of Sperling’s mission is to bring LED lighting to a grander scale. “Most people don’t realize that LEDs can be used pretty much anywhere. They have some preconceived notions that LEDs aren’t as bright as traditional lighting or that it just won’t be suitable for a big business building, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!” Sperling’s continued zeal for energy conservationism in the form of artificial lighting is contagious, and people are beginning to catch on.

So where does that leave the future of LED lighting in the realm of energy protection? If you ask Howard Sperling, the answer is clear. “LED lighting should be everywhere – in homes and businesses and even outdoors. The amount of savings, both monetary and energy-wise, is undeniable. There’s no sacrifice in light quality, even in an outdoor setting. If we truly are heading to the future of energy conservation, LEDs will light the way.”