Several years ago, when compact fluorescent (CFL) lightbulbs came onto the market, I was really happy. I was even happier when their prices came down and their warmth and quality improved greatly, because they really do save a lot of money, energy and natural resources.
But then I became a mom.
Fluorescent light bulbs break sometimes, and when they do, they release mercury vapor into the air, and must be carefully removed and disposed of like toxic waste. You just can’t put CFLs or other fluorescent bulbs in the trash—ever. Yikes!
It only took breaking one of them—and having to rush my child out of a room till it could be ventilated of one of the most toxic poisons known to humanity—to ban CFLs from all but the most remote areas of my house.
But even more important than the tiny amount of mercury released by one broken bulb is the huge amount of mercury used in the manufacture of all CFLs. This has far greater impact on the health of everyone, especially those who manufacture these bulbs.
That’s why LED light bulbs are such Good News to people who want to save energy and money on their electric bills.
The Benefits of LED Light Bulbs
LED bulbs have many advantages over both incandescents and compact fluorescents:
- They use very, very little energy,
- last at least 10 years,
- contain no mercury vapor,
- are tough and can be dropped or turned off and on repeatedly without damage,
- can operate in very cold or warm temperatures,
- have a light frequency that doesn’t contribute to headaches or other health issues.
LED bulb prices will definitely give you sticker shock. However, at a lifetime cost of $86, compared to $352 per bulb for a standard incandescent, LEDs can clearly save you thousands of dollars in your home over time.
And, just like with CFLs, the price is coming down quickly, and the efficiency and quality is improving at the same time.
Since they are pricey, I intend to replace my current bulbs with LEDs one at a time as they burn out, or when I can find them on sale. Amazon.com also has some really good prices for LED bulbs, too.
I consider changing our light bulbs to be a very important part of our long-term strategy to save money and reduce our family’s resource footprint even further. And given the ridiculous amount of fossil fuels burned every day so we can see in the dark, any improvement in lighting efficiency we make as a nation of households will also decrease our dependence on foreign oil, and protect our air, water and natural resources at home.
In fact, if 63 people replaced just one regular light bulb with an LED, it would be like taking one car off the road for an entire year. If those people replaced all the bulbs in their home, it would be like removing 25 cars. Get a town of 100,000 to switch, and we’re talking nearly 40,000 cars taken off the road. Now, that’s a big difference!
On a national level, if every family and workplace replaced their standard incandescent bulbs with LEDs, we’d save $3.9 billion per year, and avoid emitting over 20 million metric tons of soot, methane, mercury and carbon pollution into the air!
Our nation could really use that kind of savings right now.
This is my latest favorite infographic, from Lamps.com, about the costs and benefits of energy efficient light bulbs.
This article was excerpted from my book Sustainability Starts at Home – How to Save Money While Saving the Planet. For more money-saving, planet-friendly tips, pick up a copy today!
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50 Ways to Love Your Mother contains 50 simple, “entry-level” ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Not only will these baby steps go easy on the planet, but they will go easy on your wallet, too.