the ABCs of CFL and LED bulbs

Light bulb

The very first light bulb came into being sometime in the early 1800s, and no, it wasn’t invented by Thomas Edison; though Edison is the one who designed the biggest improvements in the early incandescent bulbs.

We’ve come a long way baby!

Through the years, the incandescent light bulb has been the standard. Early Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) were expensive and offered up unattractive light. These days, CFLs are affordable and come in a variety of light colors. But why do we care about light bulbs? This is where “eco” friendly means both the earth and our pocketbooks.Check out the stats on Incandescent, CFL and a newcomer to the home lighting arena, LED options.





Light bulb projected lifespan

50,000 hours

10,000 hours

1,200 hours

Watts per bulb (equiv. 60 watts)




Cost per bulb




KWh of electricity used over
50,000 hours




Cost of electricity (@ 0.10per KWh)




Bulbs needed for 50k hours of use




Equivalent 50k hours bulb expense




Total cost for 50k hours




Energy Savings over 50,000 hours, assuming 25 bulbs per household:

Total cost for 25 bulbs




Savings to household by switching
from incandescents



– Cost of electricity will vary. The figures used above are for comparison only, and are not exact. Residential energy costs among the various states range from 28.53 cents (Hawaii) to 6.34 cents (Idaho) per KWH.
– The cost per bulb for LEDs may vary. We used the figure of $35.95 (for a 60 watt equivalent LED bulb) as an average among lighting retailers.
– Estimates of bulb lifespan are projected, since it would take about 6 years of continuous lighting to test. Some manufacturers claim the new LED bulbs will last up to 25 years under normal household use, but this is not proven.
– Bulb breakage and bulb replacement costs have not been factored into this comparison chart. Incandescent bulbs and CFL bulbs are more easily broken than LEDs, which increases their cost of use.
– Most LEDs come with a minimum 2-year guarantee. Any defective LED bulb will usually fail within this time.

There is no getting around the fact that CFLs or LEDs cost more to start with, however, it’s pretty easy to calculate how quickly they will pay for themselves. Add the long-term cost savings to the energy savings and long term environmental impact (less bulbs, less packaging, fewer chemicals in LEDs, etc) and it’s easy to see the future of stylish, eco-friendly lighting!

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