It is a well-established trend that demand for electricity continues to increase as consumers fall in love with their digital devices. Now, that dynamic is about to reverse.


In a seemingly counterintuitive development, one company is predicting that energy use will fall even as the number of contraptions that consume that power increases. All of this will be courtesy of changes in lighting.


Recently, the London-based consulting firm IHS announced what it appropriately describes as “a fundamental paradigm shift in lighting technologies.” The firm projects that a global move toward more efficient lamps will reduce electricity demand for general illumination. This will happen in the next few years.


According to IHS, energy usage will decline even as the number of lamps increases. It projects the global installed base of lamps to rise to 59.3 billion units in 2020, up from 56.4 billion in 2013. On the other hand, it projects the energy usage of that technology to fall to 2.75 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in the same time frame, down 24 percent from 3.61 trillion kWh last year.


IHS defines general lighting as that which covers homes, businesses and street lamps, excluding architectural and theatrical lighting. It adds that the installed base for general lighting will account for 10.3 percent of the net electricity generated in 2020, down from 16.4 percent in 2013.


Driving this change, according to IHS, is the banning of inefficient, incandescent lamps around the world and the adoption of highly efficient lighting technology, mostly solid-state lighting, namely LEDs. Currently, the high cost of LEDs has kept most consumers away, despite the technology’s superior efficiency.


Consumers have embraced less costly alternatives instead, mostly CFLs, but the company predicts they will replace even those highly efficient lamps with LEDs, once the prices get within their range in the next few years.