Environmentalists and designers alike see light-emitting diodes, or LED lighting, as the future of illumination. But we’re still screwing in compact fluorescents and incandescent bulbs because LEDs are too expensive. However, there is a small but growing number of rebates and incentives for LED lighting.
What's so great about LED lightbulbs?
What’s so great about LEDs? They are more eco-friendly than the popular compact fluorescent bulb, and have few of the drawbacks. LEDs use even less energy than CFLs, and they don’t generate heat while they are on. This could mean you spend a little less to cool your house in the summer because you are not fighting the heat of all your lights. LEDs also are estimated to last 10 times longer than CFLs. LEDs also don’t contain dangerous mercury and are fully recyclable.
Designers like LEDs because they can be made in virtually any shape or color. They don’t have the flicker or delay of fluorescent lights (although, to be fair, this is an outdated complaint: most CFLs no longer have these problems).
Who is using LED lightbulbs?
LEDs already are ubiquitous in municipal and industrial use. Bright, low-energy LEDs are a no-brainer for stoplights and other always-on lighting applications. They are also currently trendy in under-cabinet accent lighting, and they are slowly expanding to the rest of the home as manufacturers perfect the light quality and reduce prices.
Prices continue dropping for CFLs, which average about $4 per bulb for a standard fixture. LED bulbs for standard fixtures are also getting cheaper quickly, but still cost about $40 each. However, some savings are available.
Can I get a rebate for LEDs in my area?
- Starting this month, businesses in Massachusetts and parts of New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island are eligible for substantial rebates for LED street lighting and interior fixtures.
- Commonwealth Edison in Illinois offers discounted LED fixtures.
- Austin businesses can save $300 for each kilowatt-hour of reduced usage through replaced light fixtures.
- In Canada, BC Hydro offers rebates for replacing fluorescent ballasts with LED fixtures.
- Incentives are widely available for LED Christmas lights, which are the first LEDs in many homes.
Even if you can’t take advantage of these incentives, keep an eye on LEDs. Expect prices and quality both to quickly become more attractive. A Cambridge University team last year developed a LED bulb for regular fixtures that could cost less than $3 each when the technology reaches commercial scale. Researchers also are overcoming the main aesthetic drawback of LEDs: the light is sharply focused. This is great for kitchen task lighting, but not so much for the living room, where it may be considerably darker when you are not standing directly beneath the light.