Would you buy a 20-year light bulb for $50 if it will save you $165 in energy bills over its lifespan? But Phillips, the Dutch electronics giant, released its new energy efficient LED bulb on Earth Day and it's betting that when the price begins to fall, consumers will dive in.
The U.S. Department of Energy held a contest for the "Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize" and Phillips' entry of its 10-watt LED bulb took top honors. Rated to last 30,000 hours, the soft white LED 10-watt bulb is said to emit the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent light while operating with 83 percent more energy efficiency.
Green bulbs lighting up the marketplace
Phillips told European news agency AFP that if every American replaced their incandescent bulbs with their newest energy efficiency entry, the nation would save $3.9 billion in power bills. Not a shabby number, but it may take time for Americans to respond.
The LEDs join a crowded marketplace of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) that have already become commonplace. The CFLs, like these new LEDs, opened their run with high pricing, since slashed to make them easily more competitive. In 2007 alone, Americans saved an estimated $1.5 billion in electric costs by switching from incandescent bulbs to CFLs.
The government organization ENERGY STAR heralds new generation bulbs for keeping things cool around the home. Compared with incandescent bulbs, LED and CFL bulbs produce 75 percent less heat. If you have a home with 25 bulbs in it, that's a lot of heat. When it's in use, an LED bulb is cool to the touch.
Phillips hopes with partnerships and rebate plans to bring the $50 bulb down to around $20 eventually. Nearly 300 utility companies in the nation have partnered with Phillips to offer rebates, and the company plans to add another 230 alliances by mid-summer.
LED lighting options
You can buy LED bulbs designed for specific uses around the home. LEDs are targeted lighting, rather than the diffused light cast by incandescent bulbs. That makes LEDs a great option for spot lighting, under-cabinet lighting and track lighting. The bulbs come with a standard base for screwing into existing sockets or pin bases for pin sockets.
Not all LEDs are designed for use in dimmers, so check the packaging. Dimmable globe LEDs range from 100 percent to 10 percent in intensity. Diffused LEDs have dimpled lenses that spread out their lighting. Tube LEDs are sold in 8- and 16-watt options for replacing those ugly fluorescent tube lights you may have.
It may take while for complete adoption of LED bulbs. But even if prices don't decline much, you'll still end up saving money on your utility bills by switching over.
(By the way, here's a crash course in how to choose the perfect light bulb.)