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The Next Green Light Bulb: Just a Trend?

So you've gone ahead and switched from incandescent bulbs to CFLs. Is there another big home lighting switch just around the corner?

Incandescent bulbs have been through a few transformations since their invention in the 1850s, but they are still very inefficient, losing about 80% of their energy through heat. Compact fluorescents perform much better, putting out more light for less money while lasting longer. Get some stats for energy-efficient lighting.

Are LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, the next big thing in green lighting, or should you stick with your CFLs? LEDs most commonly appear in homes as energy-efficient and brilliantly colored holiday lights, but they are making inroads in commercial lighting, appearing in some street lights, offices, and even Buckingham Palace. There may be a very compelling reason to move towards LEDs, according to the New York Times:

Studies suggest that a complete conversion to the lights could decrease carbon dioxide emissions from electric power use for lighting by up to 50 percent in just over 20 years; in the United States, lighting accounts for about 6 percent of all energy use. A recent report by McKinsey & Company cited conversion to LED lighting as potentially the most cost effective of a number of simple approaches to tackling global warming using existing technology.

You might not want to rush out to replace your compact fluorescents. While LEDs might last longer than CFLs and about a third less wattage--without the mercury drawback of fluorescents--LEDs are currently much more expensive for home use. These new lights on the green block are definitely the ones to watch, so keep your eye out for more affordable home versions.

Learn more about how LEDs work and why they may be the wave of the future.

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