Of course, there never really was a “war on lightbulbs,” nor was there ever any ban on incandescents… but there was, certainly, a lot of hype about what a weak substitute Compact Fluorescent bulbs are for good old fashioned, energy-sucking Incandescent bulbs. Finally, it seems a viable and likable alternative has emerged: affordable and attractive LED bulbs.
Until now, a 40 watt LED bulb came with a price-tag of about $20 USD, a 60 watt equivalent LED bulb could run a shopper as much as $60. Last month, the LED manufacturer Cree came out with three new bulbs, the most powerful and expensive of which costs $13 (the least expensive option is less than $10). Not only are these dimmable, but they are rated for 25 thousand hours of use and come with an energy savings of 84 percent compared to incandescents. They also happen to look like an incandescent bulb, and produce similar light to one.
Even though the cheapest 60-Watt LED equivalent available prior to the new Cree bulbs cost upwards of $20 (that’s more than ten-times the cost of an incandescent bulb), sales of residential LED bulbs grew faster than any other lighting technology in the US. For manufacturers the growth in this market is a double-edged sword: profit margins for LEDs are higher than for conventional bulbs, but but they last for decades, meaning people will need to buy far fewer lightbulbs.