The Department of Energy has selected the winner of it's L Prize, a $10 million initiative to identify next-generation energy efficient light bulbs that meet a strict set of quality guidelines.
The Philipss LED 60-watt replacement bulb is the winner. It fits the same fixture as the the most common bulb in American homes, the 60-Watt "A-Type" bulb, but instead of using 60 watts of electricity, as the familiar incandescent does, it uses fewer than 10. It uses light emitting diode, or LED, technology to produce the same amount of light at a fraction of the cost.
In addition to being energy-efficient, the light bulb met the Department of Energy's strict testing requirements. It's dimmable and durable, and produces light that is comparable (in intensity and quality) to the familiar incandescent. The department tested thousands of bulbs over the course of 18 months.
If every 60-watt incandescent bulb in America was replaced with a Philips LED, we'd save $3.9 billion in electricity costs in the first year, according to the Department of Energy. Because power plants, especially those that burn coal, produce so much of the nation's greenhouse gas pollution, making such a switch would also reduce carbon emissions significantly.
The one downside, and it's likely to be a biggie, is the upfront cost. While the old 60-watt incandescent bulb costs about 30 cents, the Philips LED goes for $45.50 at amazon.com. Over time, experts expect the price of LEDs to come down dramatically.
According to the Department of Energy, switching a single bulb will save the typical homeowner 36.5 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, with at the national average of 12-cents per kwh, equals a savings of $4.38. To pay for itself at this point, then, the bulb would take 10 years to pay for itself. Thereafter, it would save about $13 per year in electricity costs.
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