Energy Efficiency | Smart Meters
There is a lot of hullabaloo out there lately in regards to energy efficient lighting technologies as well as the upcoming introduction of Smart Meters by BC Hydro. It is quite a maze to weave your way through without a doubt, and one doesn’t quite know what to believe and what not to believe.
There are a number of energy efficient lighting technologies available including compact fluorescent, induction and LED lighting. They all have their pros and cons, and all are more energy efficient than current incandescent lighting without a doubt.
I do not believe that the compact fluorescent lamp (CFLs) is the long term answer. It definitely has lower energy consumption levels than the current lamps. As it is a fluorescent lamp though it does contain mercury which is part of what makes it operate. While the amounts are small, there will be a large number of these small amounts to be disposed of. While we all want to be ‘green’ and do the right thing, a lot of us will only do that if it is convenient. So I can see large numbers of these small CFL bulbs ending up in garbage cans and ultimately landfills because it’s easy to do, versus driving them to the nearest recycling centre.
LED is an excellent long term and safe solution to finding an energy efficient product replacement. The downside to LED is the upfront cost to replace those lamps currently in your fixtures. The costs are coming down quite quickly and the quality of light is certainly improving as well. The upside of these light sources is the length of their life, rated anywhere between 30,000 and 100,000 hours depending on the product. One must be very wary though of buying ‘just any LED product’ as the market is being flooded with inferior off-shore products, many of which do not conform to CSA or UL standards.
As we know now, our supply of incandescent bulbs is going to be cut off so that we have no choice but to make a switch in our day to day lives. This supply will be cut off in either late 2012 or late 2014 depending on whether you listen to the Provincial or Federal government, but it is going to happen.
The installation of Smart Meters by BC Hydro over the next year is also going to affect the cost of energy use in this province, despite their claims that prices will not rise. Currently, consumers in B.C. enjoy the lowest energy costs in North America, by a substantial margin. Businesses in places like New York and the Eastern states routinely pay $0.20 to $0.24 per kWh whereas in B.C businesses pay between $0.04 and $0.08 per kWh. BC Hydro has to have in place, an infrastructure that is large enough to provide the maximum amount of required energy at any given time. By balancing out the times of day that we consumers demand that energy, they are able to keep a ceiling on what that infrastructure must look like and the amounts of energy that it can deliver to us. The only realistic way to change our habits and balance out the demand points throughout a 24 hour period is to charge higher rates for peak time consumption. That’s the way that it has to be and is going to be in very short order.
The bottom line is that it is going to cost a lot more for energy in the very near future in B.C. Any steps that you can take to reduce your consumption will ultimately save you a lot of money, and energy efficient lighting options are a good place to start, whether it be for residential lighting or for commercial lighting. BC Hydro offers many rebates to ease the up front cost of the transition and many technologies qualify for these. LED lighting for commercial and residential use, is an excellent choice due to its minimal energy consumption but also due to its longevity, and therefore further savings in replacement lamps.
See below for a link to Michael Smyth’s recent column on this topic.