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When the CFL was introduced it was more energy-efficient than any other type of lighting that had previously been used in the home. Where old-fashioned filament-style incandescent bulbs were good for 1,200 hours of use, the public clamored to purchase CFL’s that burned for 8,000 hours and more – using one-fifth of the energy. As staunchly as we supported the change from conventional filament lighting to CFL use, we are now in the midst of an even better alternative. We feel that compact fluorescents will be fading away sooner than later. The reason is simple. The next generation of artificial lighting is equally cheap to operate, much, much brighter (and oh so much whiter) and longer lasting than CFL’s too. How about a lifespan of 25,000 hours for starters!?! Where we never saw a key-chain size CFL flashlight, an LED key-chain flashlight is now at every checkout counter.

The light-emitting diode (LED) has finally made its way through lighting puberty (and the flashlight circuit) and is now stretching its “I’m the best and cheapest lighting for your home” muscles. Just about every manufacturer of lighting is now offering some sort of household LED alternative. Big box and independent hardware stores alike, all offer an assortment of LED lighting. Don’t be fooled by the first generation of solar-powered LED path lights that barely offered enough light to be seen on anything but pitch-black night. We’ve discovered that LED lighting for the home is literally amazing! And we are so glad. No mercury, no special handling, and, best of all, LED’s are recyclable.

Our latest whole house remodel partly involved replacing a ’70s-style recessed fluorescent light box and other dated fixtures with new LED recess lights. The result was brighter rooms and halls (no more putrid colored light), even lighting and lighting that is truly white. When the lighting is bright and the lighting is white the true colors used to decorate a room pop out and are more vivid and bold. Also, there is no time delay. LED’s are “instant on” bulbs.

LED’s have been used commonly since the early 1960s as indicator lights in electronics and have been growing as a light source ever since. At the Greenbuild 2012 green products tradeshow we spoke with several light fixture manufacturers who stated that LED technology had “come of age” and that LED had become “dependable enough to manufacture high-end commercial lighting” for street lighting, parking lots, stadiums and just about any other conceivable use.

We strongly urge you to experiment with a good-quality LED light somewhere in your home. The absence of heat, the evenly disbursed bright white light, the continued energy savings you have with fluorescents, the compactness, the instant start up, the unbelievable lasting quality and the absence of mercury make the LED the next “safer” generation of home lighting. The incandescent was our VHS. The CFL was our laser disk and the LED is our DVD/Blu-ray. LED’s are still a bit pricey, but if we each purchase one, “supply-demand” will kick in and the price will drop. Wonder what Ben Franklin would think?