Table of Contents
When I was young, my dad got really good at yelling “TURN OFF THE LIGHTS!”. Eight-year-old me had absolutely no concept of energy consumption or money, or how the two were interconnected. Here I am 30 years later and I’m still trying to find a way to repent my energy sins, although LED lights have made it easier for me.
Types of Light Bulbs
Over the years there have been some improvements to the old school incandescent bulbs that we abused as children. For a while people were buying compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) – they were a bit more efficient but create light by sending electricity through a gas mixture of argon, which is inert and totally cool with the environment, and mercury, which is not totally cool with the environment. When broken, these bulbs are toxic to both the environment and the health of you and your pets. But you’re not supposed to break the bulb!!! Life happens.
Then there were halogen bulbs – efficient but delicate. Getting your greasy finger prints on a bulb could cause it to self-destruct – and don’t knock over the lamp! The filaments in these things tend to break or burn out when jolted. It was cool though, at least the gasses inside them didn’t ruin the planet.
Then one day your favorite box stores decided it was time to bless us with the light emitting diode! Let’s take a look at what an LED is and why you should replace all of your lightbulbs with the immediately.
LED – Light Emitting Diode
A light emitting diode (LED) is a semi-conducting material that emits photons (light) when an electrical current is passed through it. The diodes themselves can be tiny – the size of a pin head, and emit a relatively large amount of light compared to legacy light bulbs. LEDs can also emit different color light – the type of semi-conducting material used to create the diode dictates the light wavelength that is emitted. What’s even more interesting is that the typical white light you get from your LED bulb is most commonly a product of a blue LED and a yellow phosphor (a phosphor is a solid that emits light when exposed to blue or ultraviolet light).
Benefits of Switching
LED light bulbs use less energy = LESS $$$
The average LED light bulb you’d use in your house uses about 8 watts of electrical power compared to a 60-watt incandescent bulb. What does that mean to your wallet you ask? If you kept 1, 60- watt incandescent bulb lit 24/7 for an entire year, it would cost you about $76 (assuming electric power costs about $0.145 per kilowatt hour – average for the U.S.). The LED bulb in contrast would cost about $10! Now I understand your probably not using your lightbulbs 24/7, but either way you’re seeing a 600% savings over traditional light bulbs.
LED Lights Last Longer
The average LED light bulb has a lifetime of about 25,000 operating hours while an incandescent bulb will last 4% of that time – or about 1,000 hours. Over a 10-year period, you may not ever have to replace a LED light bulb, while you’d need to replace the incandescent bulb 18-20 times! LED lights cost about 5x more than incandescent bulbs, but last 25x longer. This one is easy to remember – LLLL!
LED lights are better for the environment
Materials aside, longer lifespan = fewer light bulbs to manufacturer and less light bulb waste in the landfills. This residual effect may not seem important now, but will make a difference in the future.
Manufacturers produce every kind of LED light that you could think of. There are LED lights to replace your standard light bulbs, LED light fixtures to replace countersunk lighting in your ceiling, and even LED chandeliers! Many LED fixtures also have settings where you can change the “temperature” of the visible light (different diodes that put out different wavelengths of light). Some even have multiple different colors. Replacing your standard light bulbs and fixtures with LEDs gives you more options to customize your living space.
Make the switch today
Now that LED lights are on the market, switching to them seems like a no-brainer. Switching to LED lights will not only save you money, but allow you more flexibility in customizing your living space and in turn, you’re helping the environment by cutting back on light bulb waste.
If you’re worried about the initial cost of LEDs , look no further than your local power company. Many companies will provide LEDs to customers for free.
LED lights also make great gifts! A few years ago, I replaced all of my LED bulbs and afterwards, my power company sent me a free box of them. This made for a great Christmas present to my dad!