LEDs, Incadescents, or CFLs?
Today, there are more lighting choices available on store shelves than ever before. Even with all the new choices, it’s still simple to find the most efficient option – look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR means high quality and performance, particularly in the following areas:
- COLOR QUALITY: Consistent white light over the rated life
- LIGHT OUTPUT: Light must meet minimum levels for replacement claims and is maintained through the end of rated life
- EFFICACY: More light (lumens) for less watts, 75% or more
- WARRANTY: 3 year minimum warranty.
Basics of Each Bulb
LEDs are now easier to incorporate into your everyday life, and prices are quickly becoming more affordable. LEDs, or light–emitting diodes, are semiconductor devices that produce visible light when an electrical current is passed through them. LEDs are now being incorporated into bulbs and fixtures for general lighting applications. LEDs are small and provide unique design opportunities.
Incandescent bulbs produce light using electricity to heat a metal filament until it becomes “white” hot or is said to incandesce. As a result, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat. Over the next few years, the A-style incandescent bulbs will gradually be phased-out as EISA efficiency standards are phased-in. The phase-out schedule begins with the 100 watt incandescents in January 2012 and ends with new standards for the 40 watt incandescent in 2014.
In a CFL, an electric current flows between electrodes at each end of a tube containing gases. This reaction produces ultraviolet (UV) light and heat. The UV light is transformed into visible light when it strikes a phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb. What makes these bulbs use 2/3 less energy than a traditional bulb is a small amount of mercury—an average of 5 milligrams, which is roughly equivalent to an amount that would cover the tip of a ball-point pen. By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury. No mercury is released when the bulbs are intact or in use, and the energy efficiency of CFLs actually presents an opportunity to reduce mercury emissions. However, proper disposal or recycling of these bulbs can result in even more environmentally friendly energy savings.