According to a study released by Osram and Siemens, LEDs are superior to incandescents and CFLs in almost every way. The study looked at multiple aspects of light bulb use and manufacture, including costs (including environmental ones) for manufacturing, transposing, and disposing of LEDs. When compared to incandescent bulbs and compact florecent lights (CFLs), the LEDs won out. LEDs don’t contain any mercury (an environmental concern) and they require very little energy to manufacture (the energy used to build one LED could manufacture 25 incandescents or 2.5 CFLs).
We all are aware that LEDs require very little power to run, but how much energy do we really use in lighting? According to the study, artificial lighting makes up about 19% of the global electricity consumption with 70% of that being lighting. So, that equates to about 13% overall. But if you take into account all energy usage associated with lighting (including manufacturing, retailing and disposal), switching to LEDs could reduce the global demand for electricity by up to half.
So, what does this mean for you? Well, according to the study, Europe will be banning incandescents and CFLs by 2015. We’re sure the Obama administration won’t want to be far behind (if he’s still around). The two things that have put us off LEDs have been their color (they tend to be very harsh and blue, which can change how everything in your home looks especially the paint) and they haven’t been dimmable. In recent years these, along with the astronomical prices of LEDs, has changed. As long as they live up to their 15+ years of use predictions, we’ll be happy to pay a premium.
The real problem is how this will effect our wallets. We know that LED lights are more expensive, but if they reduce your overall energy bill, it should balance out, right? Well, more and more we are hearing about utilities raising rates because of lack of usage. They cite that their costs for generating the energy hasn’t changed (or has increased because of one reason or another) so they need to charge more to recoup their investment. If we all switch to LEDs tomorrow, would our bills really decrease or would our rates change to make up the difference? Only time will tell, but our money is that this is more about transitioning to a cleaner technology than saving consumers money.