The Future of Lighting: Save Money & Energy With LED Bulbs

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You may or may not have noticed that over the last few years, incandescent light bulbs have been slowly disappearing from the marketplace.  They will continue to be phased out as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (formerly named the Clean Energy Act of 2007).  The act aims to: “move the United States toward greater energy independence and security; increase the production of clean renewable fuels; protect consumers; increase the efficiency of products, buildings, and vehicles; promote research on and deploy greenhouse gas capture and storage options; improve the energy performance of the Federal Government; and increase U.S. energy security, develop renewable fuel production, and improve vehicle fuel economy.”

Incandescent light bulbs consume a vast amount of energy.   A typical 60-watt incandescent bulb costs more than three times as much per year to run as a similar LED bulb.  Considering that eighteen percent of all the energy we use in this country is consumed by light bulbs, we have a lot of room for improvement in this area.

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What lights should you buy to replace your old incandescent bulbs?  There are three other options readily available on store shelves now: halogens, CFLs, and LEDs.  Halogen lights are a better option than incandescents, but not by much.  CFL and LED lights have huge advantages over both of these in energy efficiency and long-term costs.

Many consumers have already made the switch from incandescents to the more energy-efficient CFLs, and most still shy away from LEDs because of their higher price tag.  However, LEDs are making a huge leap in the marketplace as their prices continue to fall.  They are brighter, more energy efficient, and have a much longer lifespan than CFL bulbs.

According to the National Resources Defense Council, LED lights use the least amount of energy per year and have a lifespan well beyond other lighting options.  Although the upfront purchase price may be more than CFLs, they will pay off in efficiency and longevity.  View the NRDC’s full PDF here on money-saving lightbulbs.

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Every year, Sylvania conducts their Socket Survey, a nationwide measure of public attitudes about energy-efficient lighting and awareness about the phase-out of incandescent bulbs.  In 2013, only 4 in 10 Americans were aware that 40W and 60W incandescent bulbs would be phased out by January of this year.  Only about 24% of respondents planned to switch to LED bulbs, while 46% planned on switching to CFLs.

Sylvania published this handy infographic showing the survey results, along with comparisons of the lighting options available to consumers.  They also report that LED bulbs have the highest upfront cost, but are by far the longest lasting and most cost efficient option over time and that they reduce energy consumption up to 80%.

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A recent study by Consumer Reports agrees that LED bulbs have many advantages over other options.

LED bulbs:

  • save money in electrical costs and bulb replacement costs
  • can last for decadesmore than twice as long as CFLs
  • light up instantly, where CFLs can take up to 30 seconds to reach full brightness
  • can be dimmable

After testing over 750 CFL and LED bulbs, Consumer Reports found that LED bulbs outperformed CFLs in all areas – warm up time, light distribution, brightness, color temperature, and how long the bulbs last.

Whether you are on the grid paying a utility company or off the grid and powered by solar energy, consider replacing your current bulbs with LEDs if you haven’t already.  You’ll save a lot of money and energy over time and help reduce the pollution and waste associated with the manufacturing and disposal of other types of bulbs.

Sources:

http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-energy-independence-and-security-act

http://www.nrdc.org/energy/lightbulbs/files/lightbulbguide.pdf

Sylvania 2013 Socket Survey

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/01/best-led-lightbulbs/index.htm