Just as we were getting used to compact fluorescent light bulbs, another breed of bulb is on the horizon that already threatens to knock CFL bulbs off their energy efficient perch. I refer to LED light bulbs, particularly those that can serve as incandescent bulb replacements right in your existing lamp sockets.
LED bulbs have been in the news lately because of a new process developed by British scientists that allows them to build LED’s on cheap gallium nitride rather than on the much more expensive sapphire required today. These bulbs can burn for 100,000 hours before needing replacement–10 times longer than CFL’s and 130 times longer than incandescents!
In order for them to be effective as incandescent replacements, LED’s have to be packaged together into a bulb system that can generate enough light. Otherwise they’re only useful as small lights like those used in flashlights or the LED Christmas lights that were all the rage this past season.
These brighter LED bulb replacements are now on the market, but they’re not cheap. One of the more popular ones is the EvoLux light bulb by EarthLED. It costs $80, which can give you pause. But just run the numbers with this calculator and you’ll see how you’re wasting far more money with incandescent light bulbs and saving money over the medium to long term with an LED bulb.
Evolux is a 100-watt equivalent bulb that runs for 50,000+ hours and uses a mere 13 watts (compared to 26-29 watts for a CFL bulb). Here’s what I entered into the calculator: 100 watt incandescent costing $2.00, running for 6 hours daily, with an 800 hour lifespan versus the Evolux at $80 a pop and a 50,000 hour lifespan running the same amount of time daily.
The incandescent bulb costs almost $22 a year in electricity, lasts a little over 4 months (and must be replaced 3 times a year), and must be replaced 62 times over the lifetime of Evolux. Total annual cost of running it (cost of bulb replacement + electricity) is $27.38.
The Evolux uses a mere $2.85 a YEAR in electricity!! It lasts for 22 years, 10 months and costs a total of $2.85 a year to run (since there is no replacement cost.)
The Evolux reaches the breakeven point compared to the incandescent in 3 years, 2 months, 4 days when you consider cost of bulb + cost of replacement + electricity used for both. After that it’s nothing but savings for another 19 years and change, for a total savings of $482. Even if you replace the LED bulb in ten years because of some other technology you’re still far ahead than you would be with incandescents.
Not only is using an LED light bulb (or GU10 LED bulb) good for saving you money, it’s also good for the environment. Lower electricity use means fewer emissions, and there are no hazardous substances like mercury in the LED bulbs as there are in CFL’s. Plus, if the British scientists have their way these bulbs are set to become an even better value in the years to come.
(By the way, if you are an indoor gardener, be sure to check out LED grow lights too!)