CFLs and LEDs: The Greenest Ways to GlowJuly 9th, 2009 by Ashley Strickland
Edison’s incandescent bulb has needed an upgrade for a while and it looks like the two new kids in town are ready to take over. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are the latest ways to go green on the inside while improving the outside. Each one has its pros and cons, but one thing is for sure: replacing those old bulbs in your house with one of these new ideas is a bright way to go green.
CFLs have been the new curly-cue golden boy ever since going green and the failing economy crossed paths. Fitting most fixtures and costing about $4 a piece, CFLs even come in a range of shades that can recreate our favorite shades of incandescent. These little lamps also run 75 percent cooler and maintain three to four times the energy savings of a regular bulb. Available almost anywhere, the CFL is a nice choice. However, the CFL also contains mercury, and even though they are approved in the U.S., Europe refuses to sell them. If you purchase CFLs, be sure to recycle them so that we can prevent an influx of mercury into our waste stream. Another problem with CFLs, besides the short warm-up time they require as you flick the switch, has been complaints of bad lighting. However, this is a personal observation, so you may not know until you try one.
LEDs are “the most energy-efficient light bulb you can buy,” according to a green face-off study conducted by Greenzer.com. They can last 10 times as long as a CFL and use even less heat than their competition, meaning you can touch them without being burned while they are in use. And with no mercury or harmful chemicals inside, LEDs are easy to dispose of. This will save you money-wise, energy-wise and stress-wise. So, what’s the problem? This sounds great! Because LEDs are fairly new, they still cost a pretty penny, especially if you are going to put them throughout your house. Considering the average American household uses 45 light bulbs and LEDs run between $30-$40, you could spend $1800! But, they are still dropping in price, especially from the original $120 price tag LEDs once sported and they are considered virtually a one-time investment because of their long lifespan. Also, LEDs provide light similar to flashlights: bright and directional. Step to the side and the light dies away immediately. It won’t diffuse beneath a shade like a normal bulb, it just streams in one direction, so you may not want to use these for floor lamps or to provide a reading light.
So, which type of light suits you? CFLs and LEDs have their ups and downs as new products, but look for advancements on both fronts. Recycling programs are continuing to make it easier to be kind to your old incandescent bulb or CFL. And although CFLs aren’t considered to be the final light of the future, they are a great, cheap choice for right now. LEDs are expected to continue dropping in price and to take the place of Edison’s incandescent bulbs. However, I think both technologies need improving, especially concerning the type of light they provide. See which one fits your lifestyle and save the planet on carbon emissions, as well as your electrical bill.
Have you used a CFL or LED and want to have your voice heard? Join the debate today on SocialYell!