The Light Bulb Low Down: An Energy Efficiency Guide

light bulb

Light Bulb Moment

CustomMade, April 6, 2015. Image credit: Josch13

In 2014, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to a Japanese-American team of scientists who had achieved a milestone. What was their momentous creation? The humble LED light.

“Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.” —Nobel Foundation

Though tiny—the standard size is just 5 millimeters wide—light-emitting diodes are lighting the way to a revolution in the mundane: an energy-efficient reinvention of the way we light our living spaces. “The LED lamp holds great promise for increasing the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids,” according to the Nobel Foundation. With their low power requirements, LED bulbs can be powered by inexpensive solar power.

We’ve long known traditional incandescent bulbs are tremendously wasteful. In fact 90 percent of the energy they consume is turned into heat, not light. Energy-efficient lights use between 25 and 80 percent less electricity. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the average household can save $50 per year on its energy bill by switching to more efficient lighting. That’s the basis behind new requirements for light bulbs, which were phased in from 2012 through 2014.

What are your options now? While ten years ago the compact fluorescent light (CFL) led the lighting revolution, a slew of new and increasingly advanced LED options will likely become the new normal.