As my wife will tell you, I have an unnatural fixation on light bulbs. Perhaps it is a genetic. My dear departed father spent enormous amounts of energy turning lights off – and complaining to the family that “electricity isn’t free”. I take a slightly different approach – and wonder “how close to free could electricity be?”
Hence my weird fascination with light bulbs. A few years ago – probably to lessen my guilt over my massive personal carbon foot print – I converted almost all my bulbs to CFL’S – or “compact fluorescent lights “. CFLs are much more efficient than traditional bulbs, often using 80% less energy than a traditional bulb – but suffer a few setbacks. Initially cost was an issue – but they have come down in price to be relatively competitive. However, many people – my wife included – don’t like the quality of light, the frequent flickering, the fact that many cannot be dimmed, the necessary “warm up” period, and the difficulty in disposing of them after they burn out, as they contain mercury.
LED bulbs have been the solution – incredibly efficient – great light – dimmable – instant on and off. But the problem? Price. Until lately they have been really expensive, often costing $30 or more for a single bulb.
But as with all great technologies – we may have broken through the price barrier. Home Depot is now offering a great new LED bulb made by Cree that sells for around ten bucks, depending on the model. That might still seem a high price for a light bulb, but consider the following:
- It uses 85% less energy than a comparable traditional bulb. For instance, the replacement for a 60 watt bulb uses 9 1/2 watts. Cree estimates this to translate to a $139 energy savings.
- Under normal usage of 3 hours a day, this bulb will last an astounding 22.8 years! So the bulb you install may be the last bulb you will ever change. I don’t know about you, but it is worth a few bucks to me not to have to change that bulb every year.
- Even if it doesn’t last almost 23 years – it has a ten year warranty.
- It comes in natural or bright light, and has no mercury or lead.
- It is dimmable, and comes on instantly, so the light is identical to a traditional bulb.
- It looks like a light bulb – no weird curly cue design. And from my limited experience it seems to be a really well built product.
So I am making the switch – which means this might be my last entry about light bulbs, or at least for 23 years.