Glacial Energy Blog

Battle of the Bulbs

BulbsEver since February 2007, incandescent bulbs have been the target of legislation to phase them out of use by 2014. The reason for this phase out is simple: incandescent bulbs are severely inefficient. So that begs the question: What bulbs should we switch to? There are two possible answers to that question. And in this blog, we will compare the two options, Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), to the age-old standard incandescent bulb.

For starters, in a best case scenario, 60 watt incandescent bulbs will last about 1200 hours. A 13-15 watt CFL lasts about 8000 hours and a 6-8 watt LED can last up to 50,000 hours. All of these bulbs put out about 800 lumens of light. Assuming there are 30 of each bulb in any given house, your annual consumption would be 3285 kWh/year for incandescent, 767 kWh/year for CFLs, and 329kWh/year for LEDs. At an average price of $0.10/kWh, the LEDs would save you about $300/year in energy costs.

The equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for thirty bulbs is 4500 lbs/yr, 1051 lbs/yr, and 451 lbs/yr for incandescent, CFL, and LED respectively. Besides resulting in the fewest SO2 emissions, LED bulbs contain no mercury and are RoHS compliant, unlike CFLs. Incandescent bulbs do not contain mercury, but they are still not RoHS compliant.

LEDs have no sensitivity to overly low or high temperatures or humidity, unlike their other counterparts, can be flicked on and off repeatedly (for example, in holiday lights or repeated use in a closet) without really having an effect on their lifespan, and they are very durable.  Both LEDs and incandescent bulbs can turn on instantly, but CFLs generally have to warm up some before coming to full brightness. Incandescent bulbs emit 85 BTUs of heat per hour, CFLs emit 30 BTUs/hr, and LEDs emit 3.4 BTUs/hr. Incandescent bulbs have been described by architect Michael Klement as being “heaters with light as a byproduct.� This comes from the fact that 90% of the energy used in an incandescent bulb is radiated as heat.

As you can see, LEDs are highly effective light sources, and with improving technology, they are able to replicate many different color temperatures to suit your visual preferences. The only sticking point for LEDs may be their initial high cost – about $40 for a 60 watt equivalent bulb. This high cost, however, will go a long way in saving you even more money as time goes on.


About Glacial Energy: Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting:



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