Save Money and More By Upgrading Your Lighting to LED
It’s lights out for Thomas Edison’s most famous invention – the incandescent light bulb. Nearly 135 years after the iconic inventor introduced them, the U.S. government has banned most of these bulbs as being energy wasters.
Three money-saving alternatives emerged to take their place: compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), halogen incandescents, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
Initially, CFLs were expected to fill the void. Using the same technology as the tubes you’re familiar with, these bulbs are thin fluorescent lamps coiled to fit into incandescent-size sockets. They do save a lot of energy, and they’re good for some uses, but consumers didn’t like them for home lighting. They emit harsh tones, usually can’t be dimmed and must be recycled because they contain mercury. Often their illumination is delayed after they’re turned on.
The halogen incandescents, like Edison’s bulbs, produce light by heating a filament of tungsten, but the filament burns more slowly. They are very bright, which makes them popular for automobile headlights. However, they are not much more energy efficient than the old incandescents.
The third alternative, the LED, has existed since 1962 but was a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to the practical lighting world. Now it appears to be the most promising – and exciting – choice to brighten our lives. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) goes so far as to predict LED technology “has the potential to fundamentally change the future of lighting in the United States.”
This lighting resolves many of the concerns about CFLs and halogens, is proving to be much less expensive – and is high-tech to boot.
The LED uses a semi-conductor as its light source. Rather than the filaments and gases contained in CFLs and halogens, LEDs, in simple terms, consist of tiny chips placed on heat-conducting material. When a current is passed through the material, the LEDs light up. All those colorful little lights on your appliances and your computer are LED lights.
How much will you save with LED lighting? Don’t be put off by the purchase price of the bulbs – they may seem expensive but their efficiency and longer life usually make them the least costly choice over time.
The DOE says LEDs for home use consume at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. By 2027, the DOE predicts, widespread use of LEDs could save the country the equivalent annual output of 44,000 megawatts of electricity – $30 billion at current prices.
Closer to home, the DOE illustrated a family’s savings by comparing Christmas tree lights. The exact amount saved depends on the price of electricity in your area, but in their example, using a national average price, substituting incandescent tree lights with LEDs would save $10 per season – just on the tree. For people who light up their whole houses and yards, the savings would be considerably more.
There are other considerations, too: Because they’re not made of glass, LED lights don’t break easily and the bulbs don’t burn out. That LED string of Christmas lights could last decades.
We recommend LED lighting for its energy efficiency and flexibility, but LEDs are not for every light fixture or every use. For example, because of the heat dispersion away from the bulbs, you cannot place LEDs in closed or even some partly closed fixtures.
For safety reasons, you should call an electrician before you replace incandescent lighting with LEDs. A qualified electrician also should help you plan for LED lighting in any remodel or new construction.
The DOE may be right that LED will lead us into a whole new realm of lighting. It’s a technology worth investing in: functional, energy efficient, colorful if you want it to be – including “green.”
Call us for more information on converting or adding LED lighting to your home.