Most environmentally-sound practices, including recycling, remain optional endeavors for consumers, but one Green practice that will be imposed on consumers in the near future, is the need to change the lighting in their homes. With new legislative regulations coming into effect in 2012 and subsequent years, it is important that people begin to familiarize themselves with new lighting technologies as they are required to move away from current incandescent light bulbs and adopt newer technologies, including LED lighting.
Traditional incandescent light bulbs will essentially be outlawed in the US by the year 2014, a revelation that has caused some consumers to begin stockpiling these soon-to-be obsolete products. But, rather than working to avoid the inevitable, it would be much easier to understand why LED lighting offers an energy and cost-saving alternative to both incandescent and the current energy-saving light bulb du jour, the compact fluorescent or CFL.
While LEDs (light emitting diodes) are not a new technology by any means, they have been found in decorative lighting, backlighting for flat panel displays, status indicators on a host of electronic products and even as car brake lamps and indicators, their use as a general-purpose light source is, in itself, new. An LED is an electronic semiconductor device of a particular material composition which, when current passes through it, gives off light. The first practical LED to produce light with a spectrum visible to the human eye, a red LED, was discovered in 1962. In later developments, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet LED chips were created. The main technology challenge has been to maximize the amount of light produced with respect to the energy supplied to the LED.
Now, that challenge is being met with lighting that very-closely matches that emitted by traditional incandescent bulbs. The first iterations of these products have come in the form of what manufacturers refer to as retro-fit bulbs, whose sole purpose is to replace their incandescent and CFL predecessors. Offering more efficient operation, longer bulb life and, most importantly, energy savings over the life of the bulb.
The benefits of LED lighting over other energy-saving solutions take time to be realized and that is perhaps one of the biggest roadblocks for consumers to understand. The efficiency of an LED lamp is approximately five times that of a standard incandescent bulb, allowing for its initial price point to be more than recovered through lower energy usage and a much longer life span. Also, LED bulbs lessen the need for power generation and do not contain hazardous materials such as mercury.
With lighting in homes and businesses typically accounting for about 20% of all electrical energy use, the conversion of incandescent lighting to LED lighting can have a significant impact on national energy usage and individual carbon footprints. With LED bulbs holding a 40,000-hour lifespan (over 20 years), once installed, the savings benefits will be realized for years to come with standard use.
As new legislation around the world makes switching to more efficient lighting alternatives a necessity, consumers need to begin educating themselves on the benefits of these new products and how they will affect their lives. Offering the longest lifespan and the most energy savings over their operating life, LED bulbs are an alternative that will benefit consumers now and into the future. So, the only question that needs to be asked is when will you become a part of the future of lighting?