The only time we give our indoor lighting any thought is when it unexpectedly goes dark. But that might be just the time to shed light on new eco-friendly options for illuminating your home.

While incandescent light bulbs are known for their beautiful, warm glow, which, some say is unparalleled by compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and LEDs, those luminous lights are big fat energy guzzlers. Many governments have passed measures to phase out incandescents in favour of more energy-efficient choices. In Canada, that ban was scheduled to take effect in 2012, but it’s been postponed until 2014.

Incandescents waste energy because they need to heat up substantially to operate, have a short life span and need to be repeatedly replaced and discarded, which jams up landfill sites.

The ban is expected to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that would equal shutting down 1.4 million vehicles.

CFLs have long been touted as the ideal replacement for incandescent light bulbs. They use up less than 25 per cent of the energy required to run incandescents and are known to last up to ten times longer. But these lights are far from perfect. The bulbs issue a harsh light that doesn’t compare to incandescent. More importantly, they contain mercury, a toxic substance that requires special disposal.
LEDs (light emitting diodes) are viewed as the next generation in home lighting as they’re more energy efficient than CFLs, burn little heat and contain no poisonous gases. Their life spans are remarkable, lasting up to 35,000 hours or about 16 years based on six hours of daily use.

LED light bulbs can be easily recycled with regular glass products and should they end up in a landfill heap, no lasting environmental damage will be sustained, as they contain no toxic chemicals. Finally, unlike CFLs, LEDs have improved their technology so that light bulbs are available in warm, cool and neutral tones. They also come in many different models and styles.

On the down side, LEDs are not known for their brightness. And they’re expensive. This expense when compared with incandescent and CFL lighting seems to be the major sticking point right now in the market. Still, consumers are beginning to understand how economical LEDs are to operate. And as their price continues to drop many are warming to the idea of installing LEDs in their homes and offices.
What a bright idea!