LED and CFL bulbs – which should you buy?


The beginning of 2014 saw the phasing out of higher-wattage (75/100w) incandescent light bulbs and in just over a month our 40- and 60 watt friends will be riding off into the sunset. As stocks start to run out in stores we will have to start exploring new lighting options.

Before we tackle these options, let’s look at why is the government phasing out incandescent bulbs. According to Natural Resources Canada, “The Government of Canada is introducing standards to improve the efficiency of typical residential light bulbs being sold in Canada. Improving energy efficiency reduces the amount of energy used and thus reduces greenhouse gas emissions.” Stopping the use of these bulbs will lower Canada’s carbon footprint, and who doesn’t want that?

Soon these revolutionary bulbs will be a thing of the past.

Soon these revolutionary bulbs will be a thing of the past.

The three main types of light bulbs that will stay available are halogen, compact fluorescents (CFL) and light emitting diodes (LED). CFLs and LEDs are the two most efficient and offer the most for your money, but does one outshine the other?

First, let’s look at cost. Both are more expensive than your average incandescent bulb. When a price comparison was performed at our local Canadian Tire store, the average CFL bulb cost an average of four to seven dollars each while an LED bulb was in the 12 to 15 dollar range (for standard indoor bulbs). Both are more expensive than their low efficiency counterparts but both boast a longer lifespan. This means that they will have to be replaced less often. CFLs tend to last about 12 times longer than incandescent bulbs while LEDs can last up to 40 times longer with an average lifespan of 22+ years.

Another thing to take into consideration is energy efficiency – LEDs can help you save up to 90 per cent on energy consumption when compared with incandescent lighting while CFLs will save you about 75 per cent. Less energy consumption equals a lower energy bill. This means these new bulbs will pay for themselves many times over during their lifespan in savings alone.

Now, which is better for the environment? LEDs have earned an ENERGYSTAR® rating while CFLs use mercury in their manufacturing making them potentially toxic. This also means that they are considered hazardous waste and could be very bad for the environment if they were to be disposed of incorrectly.

As you can see, LEDs offer the most bang for your buck while also being the most environmentally sound. CFLs came into existence in the mid-90s to create an energy efficient alternative to incandescent bulbs; while they were a wonderful option when LED bulbs were prohibitively expensive they are quickly being overtaken by their competition.

We know that lighting costs are a small amount of home electricity consumption, with things like water heating, space heating and cooling taking the lion’s share, but every penny counts and a home that is efficient in all aspects is a healthier home for both you and the environment.

If you have more questions about how to save money on your hydro bills, please send them to us at our Twitter or Facebook page.

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