Energy efficiency is coming to the forefront of everyone’s minds–businesses, homeowners, even utility companies are finding way to lower their energy usage.  Lighting makes up 11% of the average electric bill making this a good place to start when looking to lower energy costs.

LED bulbs are popping up everywhere–and they’re not just becoming more popular, they’re becoming more affordable.   New York Times columnist David Pogue started raving about LED bulbs last year and has recently begun touting the greatness once again.  From their lifespan, to their durability to their efficiency, Once Pogue made the switch from incandescent and CFLs to LEDs, it was a no-brainer.

According to  another article by the New York Times, “LED sales grew faster than any other lighting technology” and the use of LEDs is even more common in the commercial and industrial sector.  The well-known global home store, Ikea, has recently announced that in 2016 they will begin selling only LED light bulbs.  According to a study conducted by Ikea “43 percent of Americans have at least one LED lamp in their homes. In China, the figure is 80 percent, in Russia 65 percent, and in Sweden, 61 percent.”

We had a chance this week to sit down with our Standard Energy Solutions (SES) Energy Efficiency Business Manager (and resident LED expert) Timothy Croman to find out more about the benefits of LED lighting.

How do LED bulbs work in comparison to traditional light bulbs?

The technology used in incandescent bulbs goes back to the turn of the century and was used until the last decade.  Light is produced through heating up a filament in the light bulb.  In an incandescent bulb, 90% of the energy released is heat and 10% is actual light.  CFL light bulbs to not emit as much heat, but work in a similar way.  The electricity heats a gas inside the light bulb and when the gas heats up it produces light.  LEDs produce light through a computer chip, a driver, and optics.  The computer chip programs the light; the driver produces the light and the optics give off light so it can be seen

What are the benefits of switching to LED bulbs?

The greatest benefit of LED bulbs is energy savings.  9 times out of 10 people are looking for savings when they are looking to switch to more efficient bulbs.

LED bulbs produce less heat, which also helps reach the goal of energy savings.  We were in a house today that had 50 incandescent light bulbs.  The average temperature of an incandescent light bulb is 180 degrees where an LED bulb runs at an average temperature of 90 degrees. If each of those is producing 90% heat and 10% light, you can imagine how much heat those 50 light bulbs are emitting and overheating your house.

There are a lot of unexpected benefits of LEDs as well.  LEDs turn on instantly, are fully dimmable, have a longer lifespan and can also be incorporated easily into a smart home system. They also are direct replacements to incandescent bulbs and have a broad range of light appearance which is hard to achieve with CFLs.

What are some of the common concerns you hear about LED bulbs?

Homeowners are sometimes disappointed with their CFL light bulbs – you couldn’t dim them and the quality of light wasn’t very good.  You won’t have the same experience with LEDs that you did with CFLs. The light will be a warmer shade, close to the incandescent bulbs that so many people prefer.  LEDs will last much longer – typically 50,000 hours depending on use.  Compare that to the 2,000 hour life span of an incandescent or the 8,000 hour lifespan of CFLs.   Plus, LEDs are much safer for your home since they don’t have mercury like CFLs do.

Another main concern is the cost of the bulbs.  You really have to consider the savings and the ROI in the long run.  In the 4 or 5 years you might wait to replace your bulbs, you could have 5 years old reduced energy costs.  The LED bulbs we use have an average payback period of about 4 years, so your bulbs will have paid themselves off in the time you were waiting to buy them.