In its first hundred years, the light bulb didn’t change that much. But now, you might not even recognize what some bulbs look like.
The latest generation of bulb is the LED, or light-emitting diode. These new bulbs are dimmable, use about 80% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, and last 25 years.
These are different than earlier CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs in that they don’t contain mercury, don’t take any time to “warm up,” have a more familiar shape and give off a warmer light.
The drawback to these bulbs is the price. A single bulb can cost anywhere between $10-60. However, when you factor in the rebates offered at many stores, there are nearly a dozen bulbs for less than $10.
“We all struggle with the long-term math,” said Joel Smith of Puget Sound Energy. “But any of these light bulbs would pay for themselves in a year to a year and a half when compared to an incandescent.”
He says it costs $8 to power an old-fashioned incandescent bulb each year; it costs $0.75 to power an LED bulb. Smith adds that while CFLs might use a comparable wattage, LED bulbs last on average 5 times longer.
Smith says he understands the cost of replacing all your bulbs at once is daunting, so he recommends tackling the project a room at a time as you would other home improvements, such as painting.
You can learn more about LED bulbs from Puget Sound Energy and from Seattle City Light.