Three reasons to switch to LED lightbulbs

Three reasons to switch to LED lightbulbs

Saving money is one

Published: November 22, 2013 04:35 PM

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Incandescent bulbs are cheap until you flip the switch. CFLs use about 75 percent less energy; LEDs use even slightly less energy and were the top performers in Consumer Reports’ tests. Here are three good reasons to switch to LEDs.

You can save money. Edison’s invention is terrific except that 90 percent of the electricity used is given off as heat so it requires a lot of energy to create light. Replace a 60-watt incandescent with an LED that provides the same brightness and you’ll save about $125 over its life. The Samsung A19 60-Watt Warm White, $30, tops our Ratings of 60-watt replacements and is claimed to last 25,000 hours, that’s nearly 23 years when used 3 hours a day. 

Incandescents are going away.
They waste energy and the average U.S. household has more than 40 sockets so you can see how all this adds up, and that’s why as of January 1 60- and 40-watt bulbs can’t be made in the U.S. or imported, but remaining stock can be sold. Then it’s the end of the incandescent era as 100- and 75-watt bulbs were already phased out. For an LED that’s even brighter than the Samsung, take a look at the Philips A21 17W 75W Soft White. It replaces a 75-watt bulb, costs $31, and has a claimed life of 25,000 hours.

Some CFLs are really good, but LEDs are the top rated. The CFLs we tested are a lot better than earlier versions and cost $1.25 and up. But CFLs, unlike LEDs, take at least 30 seconds to fully brighten, contain a small amount of mercury that’s released when a bulb breaks, and most can’t be dimmed. The highest rated LEDs scored an impressive 99 out of 100.

The drawback is their price. You do save money over time, but you have to shell out a lot of money up front. Some utilities offer in-store rebate coupons that knock up to $10 off and you’ll find rebates at energystar.gov and dsireusa.org. We’re testing 60-watt LEDs that replace incandescents and cost $14 or less—a Cree has an unusually long warranty of 10 years—and will tell you what our preliminary tests show in about two weeks. Until then see our Ratings to find out how the best LEDs and CFLs compare.

—Kimberly Janeway

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