Sunday, March 16, 2008

Light up your Bathroom - LED, CFL or Incandescent?

What kind of lighting is best for your bathroom? You have the choice between purchasing a Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb (CFL), a Light-Emitting Diode Light Bulb (LED) and a normal Incandescent Light Bulb. There are a number of different categories you should consider before making a decision – check out their rankings below:

Best Light Quality

  1. Incandescent – the obvious winner. Yellow, warm light is much preferred!
  2. Two way second place/last place tie. LED bulbs (which are used to light up the computer screen you are reading this on) are slightly dimmer and have a daylight quality to them. They tend to stream light in one direction so you’ll end up with dark spaces in your room. CFL bulbs – people say the lighting isn’t that bad. Maybe it’s something you have to get used to but I can’t stand it in a small space.

Environmentally Friendly
  1. LED bulbs are by far the most environmentally friendly. They use the least amount of electricity, they last the longest and they do not contain hazardous materials. If you’re willing to sacrifice on light quality and spend more upfront, choose this bulb.
  2. Incandescent bulbs use the most electricity and fill up the landfills more quickly than the LED and CFL bulbs. If you’re going to use these bulbs, make sure to turn off your lights when you’re not using them or try to make use of natural light from windows. And don't forget to recycle them.
  3. CFL bulbs each contain about 5mg of mercury. You should use CFL bulbs only if you plan to recycle them (drop them off at IKEA or check out Earth 911 for a list of local drop-off locations). When these bulbs break in your home or in a garbage bin, mercury (which is very toxic to the environment and your health) is released. As more and more people jump on Al Gore’s CFL bandwagon, more and more mercury will be released into the environment. Check out NPR's story “CFL Bulbs Have One Hitch: Toxic Mercury” for more information.

Longest Life – The lifetime of a light bulb in the bathroom may be slightly shorter because of moisture, but here’s the standard for these bulbs.
  1. LED – 50,000 to 60,000 hour
  2. CFL – 10,000 hours
  3. Incandescent – 1,000 to 1,500 hours

Lowest Electricity Bill – Check out the Light Bulb Comparison Spreadsheet from Product Dose for an in depth comparison.
  1. LED – these bulbs use slightly less watts of energy than the CFL bulbs. You’ll see the biggest impact in your bill in high energy cost areas.
  2. CFL – according to the EPA these bulbs use 75% less energy than the common Incandescent bulbs.
  3. Incandescent – the energy hog of the light bulb family.

Upfront Costs
  1. Incandescent – as cheap as they get.
  2. CFL – midrange price – often about $10 per bulb.
  3. LED – most expensive initially - usually $30+ per bulb (but this investment will pay off). Check out the C. Crane website to compare prices of different LED models.

Lifetime Cost
  1. LED and CFL – with their long life and low electricity use, these bulbs will save you money in the long term.
  2. Incandescent – over a course of a year, these bulbs can cost you hundreds more than the LED and CFL bulbs.

The choice is up to you. Which ever you chose, just remember to turn off your lights and recycle your light bulbs!

1 comment:

todd said...

Maggie - what a riot. I just posted on going green with our portable solar powered toilets and was Googling green toilets to see if that post had been indexed yet and here you are pushing permanent green in toiletry! And we're both in the Bay Area - of course!