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.

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