If you’ve been out at night lately you may have noticed a silent yet bright revolution occurring. The revolt is happening in the form of tiny arrays of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), and they’re replacing inefficient incandescent lightbulbs in your home, changing the sodium glow of street lighting, and transforming modern architecture. LEDs are truly providing sustainable lighting solutions.
First discovered over 100 years ago, LEDs create light by electroluminescence in a semiconductor material. Though the low energy LEDs as we know them today have been around for over 50 years, in which time they have become brighter, more colourful and whole lot cheaper.
But what is so great about LEDs compared to traditional bulbs and even low energy CFL bulbs?
Well, lighting a house is uses a considerable amount of energy, up to 18% of your energy bill, so finding solutions to reduce that energy requirement is a no brainer. And thats where LED lighting can come to the rescue.
LEDs don’t just stop at efficiency either. They achieve full brightness instantly, unlike other energy saving bulbs, and they’re are dimmable. LEDs also come in vast variety of of colours and hues. So, think less clinical lab lighting and more homely glow.
Perhaps what is most staggering about LEDs is their amazing longevity. Light Emitting Diodes last a very very very long time, they can run 10 hours a day for 13 years! That means the average LED bulb lasting 50,000 hours, which is an astonishing 49,250 hours more than an incandescent light, and 48,000 more hours than a halogen bulb!
However, LEDs do have a darker side. A 2010 study found LEDs contain lead and arsenic amongst other potentially dangerous substances. That is not to say they are dangerous, but its when they break that could cause problems. Researchers advise you treat broken LEDs as hazardous waste, using a mask and gloves to dispose of them properly.
It’s true that for many years LED light bulbs were incredibly expensive, and somewhat dim in comparison to their incandescent cousins. However, technological developments in LEDs now mean that they will perform better than incandescent lighting and even CFL light bulbs. Although more expensive, a LEDs extremely low energy consumption means that they will quickly pay of themselves over their long lifetime, saving £70 or $90 over the lifetime of the bulb.
Choosing LED light bulbs, like any sustainable decision, means we have to be able to see further than the present, and base our decisions on possible future outcomes. Whilst in the short term it might benefit your wallet to buy cheaper non efficient light bulbs, but it doesn’t take long for LEDs to pay for themselves, and save you a heap of energy and money far into the future.