May 9, 2017

America's efficient light bulb boom

Why are American households using less electricity lately? A blog post from a University of California-Berkeley business prof shines a light (sorry!) on a big reason why — efficient light bulbs have a bigger share of the market.

The big change: Per-capita power use plateaued around 2010 after decades of growth, and is now lower than it was five years ago, notes Lucas Davis of the Energy Institute at Haas.

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Data: Energy Information Administration; Note: Percentages do not add up to 100% due to rounding; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

One level deeper: Over 450 million LED's have been installed as costs have dropped 94% over a decade, compared to less than 500,000 in 2009. Use of compact fluorescent bulbs has also surged.

  • While appliances like dishwashers and air conditioners have all gotten more efficient, that can't explain the decrease in household power use yet. "The turnover is too slow, and the gains in energy-efficiency for these other appliances have been too gradual for these changes to explain the aggregate pattern," Davis writes.

A helpful new Energy Information Administration snapshot provides details about the growing adoption of efficient lighting and what's driving the change including: federal lightbulb efficiency standards that took effect in 2012, state policies, utility programs and falling costs.

A survey conducted in 2015-2016 found that 86% of households used at least one CFL or LED bulb, and nearly a fifth of the all households reported using no traditional incandescent bulbs.

Go deeper

SpaceX capsule carrying astronauts docks with space station

The Crew Dragon just before docking on Sunday. Photo: NASA TV

SpaceX's Crew Dragon safely delivered two NASA astronauts — Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken — to the International Space Station on Sunday after the company's historic launch Saturday.

Why it matters: This marks the first time a private company has delivered people to the space station and it signals the beginning of the end of NASA's reliance on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft for flights to orbit.

Minnesota AG: Prosecution of officer in George Floyd case shouldn't be rushed

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison cautioned in an interview on "Fox News Sunday" that the case against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer involved in the death of George Floyd, is "very early in the process" and that charges could be amended or added.

Why it matters: Chauvin was arrested last week and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, which implies that he did not intend to kill Floyd. Some protestors have demanded more severe charges and Floyd's family has asked Ellison to serve as a special prosecutor in the case.

Robert O'Brien: "I don't think there's systemic racism" in law enforcement

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that he doesn't believe there is "systemic racism" among law enforcement in the U.S., arguing that there are "a few bad apples" that are giving police a bad name.

Why it matters: The mass protests that have swept across the United States are not just a response to the death of George Floyd, but of the dozens of high-profile instances of unarmed black men dying at the hands of police officers over the years.