Are there other energy efficient lightbulbs out there besides CFLs?
LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are solid light bulbs which are extremely energy-efficient. When first developed, LEDs were limited to single-bulb use in applications such as instrument panels, electronics, pen lights and, more recently, strings of indoor and outdoor Christmas lights.
Manufacturers have expanded the application of LEDs by "clustering" the small bulbs. The first clustered bulbs were used for battery powered items such as flashlights and headlamps. Today, LED bulbs are made using as many as 180 bulbs per cluster, and encased in diffuser lenses which spread the light in wider beams. Now available with standard bases which fit common household light fixtures, LEDs are the next generation in home lighting.
A significant feature of LEDs is that the light is directional, as opposed to incandescent bulbs which spread the light more spherically. This is an advantage with recessed lighting or under-cabinet lighting, but it is a disadvantage for table lamps. New LED bulb designs address the directional limitation by using diffuser lenses and reflectors to disperse the light more like an incandescent bulb.
The high cost of producing LEDs has been a roadblock to widespread use. However, researchers at Purdue University have developed a process for using inexpensive silicon wafers to replace the expensive sapphire-based technology. This promises to bring LEDs into competitive pricing with CFLs and incandescents. LEDs may soon become the standard for most lighting needs. We are following these developments with interest and will report the latest updates in this research.
Long-lasting – LED bulbs last up to 10 times as long as compact fluorescents, and far longer than typical incandescents.
Durable – since LEDs do not have a filament, they are not damaged under circumstances when a regular incandescent bulb would be broken. Because they are solid, LED bulbs hold up well to jarring and bumping.
Cool – these bulbs do not cause heat build-up; LEDs produce 3.4 btu’s/hour, compared to 85 for incandescent bulbs. Common incandescent bulbs get hot and contribute to heat build-up in a room. LEDs prevent this heat build-up, thereby helping to reduce air conditioning costs in the home.
Mercury-free – no mercury is used in the manufacturing of LEDs.
More efficient – LED light bulbs use only 2-17 watts of electricity (1/3rd to 1/30th of Incandescent or CFL). LED bulbs used in fixtures inside the home save electricity, remain cool and save money on replacement costs since LED bulbs last so long. Small LED flashlight bulbs will extend battery life 10 to 15 times longer than with incandescent bulbs.
Cost-effective – although LEDs are initially expensive, the cost is recouped over time and in battery savings. LED bulb use was first adopted commercially, where maintenance and replacement costs are expensive. But the cost of new LED bulbs has gone down considerably in the last few years and are continuing to go down. Today, there are many new LED light bulbs for use in the home, and the cost is becoming less of an issue.
Light for remote areas and portable generators – because of the low power requirement for LEDs, using solar panels becomes more practical and less expensive than running an electric line or using a generator for lighting in remote or off-grid areas. LED light bulbs are also ideal for use with small portable generators which homeowners use for backup power in emergencies.
Yes, there are other energy efficient light bulbs other than CFLs. Although I do very much like compact fluorescent light buls (CFLs) which are about 70 to 75% more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs, there are LED (light emitting diode) lights which are actually 90% more efficient than incandescent lights.
Just a little tip about CFLs. If you have an area where a light is switched on and off frequently like a hallway or mudroom, you may not want to use a CFL as regular switching on and off reduces a CFLs lifespan. In this case you can also use another energy efficient bulb called a halogen. But know that a halogen is about 10 – 40% more efficient than our incandescent light bulbs.
If you’re concerned with your home’s energy efficiency, and you’re thinking about building a new home you should consider an ENERGY STAR house plan that give you all the EPA approved ENERGY STAR details right on your plans. ENERGY STAR homes can save 30% on energy costs annually.