The new king of indoor lighting is without a doubt the light emitting diode (LED). This technological marvel can slash the amount of money spent on lighting without giving up the aesthetics of the bulb itself or suffering with the poor color rendition that plagued earlier energy efficient alternatives to incandescent. And as the technology has advanced, dimmable and three-way LEDs are now available.
Truly, there is a LED option for just about every indoor lighting application. Table/floor lamps, recessed ceiling lights, chandeliers, sconces, and floods or spots can all receive a LED upgrade. There are some caveats with all the enthusiasm for LEDs. If you have a nice chandelier using a candelabra base bulb, LED options may not be the best in terms of appearance. Fortunately, these types of incandescent lights are still manufactured. And then there is the cost factor. The LEDs are more expensive but are dropping rapidly in price.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate the benefits of LEDs, even at their higher cost, is with a total cost of ownership (TCO) example. In the example, a LED is used to replace a traditional incandescent lamp in a recessed can ceiling fixture. Here are the inputs:
Here are the results:
And the winner in every case is the LED. In this example, it pays for itself in a little over a year. Looking at it another way, when replacing an incandescent lamp, it pays for itself in less than a year.
Another advantage of the LED over its nearest rival, the CFL, is that most do not contain the small amount of mercury used in CFLs, so they can be disposed of with normal trash, unless otherwise directed by your local municipality.
When considering lighting upgrades, go for the LED as often as possible. Even changing a handful of bulbs at a time will have a nice impact on your energy use and lighting costs.