In the past, we've written many alternative energy articles about the growth of renewable sources such as solar and wind, and how these technologies can eventually replace fossil fuels as our principle sources of electricity. However, it may be many years before they become both cheap and widespread enough to make a serious dent in our oil addiction. In the meantime, by making homes and businesses more energy efficient with current technology and practical habits, we can cut our fossil fuel consumption immediately and reduce greenhouse gas emissions considerably.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is to integrate smart lighting solutions into more buildings. Similar to smart thermostats, which we've covered before, smart lighting uses web-enabled light emitting diodes (LED) and fixtures to make lighting more efficient. As a recent Christian Science Monitor piece points out, smart lighting can cut energy usage by over 90 percent when it is properly incorporated into a structure's design.
Relying on an array of sensors that collect data about when the building is occupied and in what rooms people spend the most time, smart lighting networks anticipate when light is needed and when it can be shut off. They can also adjust brightness and other features of the light, providing occupants with more dynamic and flexible illumination, and internet connectivity means that lighting can be controlled remotely.
Probably the most promising aspect of smart lighting is that it hardly requires a massive technological revolution and market readjustment for anyone to take advantage of it. These days, most middle class homes are equipped with broadband internet connections, and LED technology has become much more affordable in recent years, so with more aggressive outreach programs, policy makers and manufacturers can spread the word that sharply reducing energy consumption can be fairly easily accomplished.