By now, many homeowners have probably replaced most of their incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, and no doubt have noticed how long these newer, energy-efficient bulbs last. Now, light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is the latest trend on the scene. Once used primarily for industrial and commercial applications, LED lighting is gaining ground at home - and there are many good reasons for that.
LED bulbs work in a unique way. Instead of emitting light and heat in all directions, an LED lights move electrons through a semiconductor material, creating light that shines in a specific direction. In LED bulbs used to replace standard bulbs, multiple diodes are used to create bright light while generating very little heat. While quite expensive compared to the older bulbs they replace, high power LED bulbs are more than twice as efficient as CFLs and eight times as efficient as incandescent bulbs, and can last as long as 20 years.
LEDs are often associated with cold, white light - and that was a fair assessment until not long ago. Now LED bulbs are available in warmer tones that are easier on the eyes (and more flattering). Like incandescent and CFL bulbs, there are LEDs made to fit standard light fixtures, recessed lighting fixtures, candelabra bases, dimmable fixtures, and even some landscape lighting. LED floodlights and spotlights are becoming more popular, particularly because they need replacement so infrequently. Other advantages of LEDs are that they contain no mercury or other toxic materials, are very unlikely to break if dropped, and reach full brightness as soon as they are switched on.
Homeowners should look for Energy Star rated LED bulbs, which have been tested to meet EPA standards of color quality and consistency, energy efficiency, and stable performance. Inferior products may make a lot of promises but may not deliver. By replacing the bulbs in their most-used and hard-to-reach fixtures, homeowners can start saving energy - and money - right now.