The good news about CFL and LED bulb alternatives

Let there be LED?light.

There are two ways that you can handle the federal government’s phase-out of traditional incandescent light bulbs: You can stockpile them in fear of the forthcoming lighting apocalypse, or you can learn to embrace the more energy-efficient CFL and LED bulbs.

If you’re entertaining option two — or simple don’t have the closet space to build up reserves — the good news is that today’s energy-efficient bulbs aren’t the harsh, unnatural mood-killers you might remember.

“When these bulbs first came out and Americans were just trying to save energy, they were crappy — they did blink, they did look blue,” says Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, founder of design website ApartmentTherapy.com. “But these companies realized if they were going to sell light bulbs to Home Depot or Ikea, they had to improve. If you want a warmer light, if you want a brighter light, if you want a softer light — they’ve figured it out.”

What’s more, the lighter, brighter LED bulbs lend themselves to lighting schemes that are impossible with incandescents. “When we get more into this, what’s really going to excite us is what we can do with LEDs, not the money or the energy that we’re saving. You can recess them, you can put them around corners — because the bulbs are so small, the design that carries them doesn’t need to be bulbous or carry a lot of weight.”

The breakdown

They look nice, but CFLs and LEDs will also save you money in the long run.

Incandescent

Initial cost: $.50
Lasts: One year
Energy cost over six years: $72.30

CFL bulbs
Initial cost: $3
Lasts: Six years E
Energy cost over six years: $16.62

LED bulbs

Initial cost: $20-$40
Lasts: 25-30 years
Energy cost over six years: $5


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