Standard incandescent light bulbs are among the most profligate energy consumers available, turning more than 90% of the energy they consume into heat rather than light. These old-school bulbs are inexpensive and cast a pleasingly warm light, but their days are numbered.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are gradually taking their place. Although they’re more expensive, the cost is coming down and dimmable versions have become available. Bulb life is much longer and, more important, CFLs deliver much more light per watt of electricity than incandescent bulbs.
More recently, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have emerged as another option. The cost is still well above that for CFLs, but LEDs last a very long time.
Are they worth the extra expense? That’s the question posted by George Lee in a recent Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor, and the topic of this week’s Q&A Spotlight.
“I am renovating a 100-year-old home entirely,” Lee writes, “and I’m buying electric supplies right now. Are LED recessed lights worth it? Or should I buy standard recessed light fixtures and buy LED bulbs later?”
Lee is working on a shoestring budget. The house was in such poor repair he was forced to gut it and make extensive repairs. It has no heat, and the banks won’t loan him a dime. Keeping costs down is a high priority.
So don’t waste your money on LEDs
Forget the LEDs, advises GBA senior editor Martin Holladay. “Right now, the best LED lamps have approximately the same efficiency as the best CFLs, but they cost about 10 times as much,” Holladay says. “Although LED lamps should last longer than CFLs, you won’t see any savings from switching to LEDs — unless the labor cost…