So, which makes more sense, using compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs? The short answer is both.
CFLs are a good short-term solution for replacing incandescent light bulbs and cutting down energy costs by as much as 80-percent. LED bulbs are a long-term solution that will most likely take over the lighting market several years down the road.
CFLs are now readily available to consumers from hardware stores or general discount stores such as Wal-Mart of Target. In addition, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 passed a few weeks ago has mandated that CFLs be used in all government facilities in order to save energy.
CFLs do have some inherent problems, however, such as they contain mercury and need to be handled with care. If a CFL is broken, it is recommended that windows to outside air be opened for at least 15 minutes and the room evacuated. Disposal of CFLs is also an issue since they have to be handled as hazardous material and cannot be put into the recycling bin.
LEDs have been in use for a while on digital clocks, watches and car dashboards. They are also now being used in desk lamps, art galleries and Christmas lights. LED bulbs can use 20 to 50 times less energy than incandescent bulbs and may last for 20 years.
In terms of replacing incandescent bulbs, LED lights do not currently meet cost or technical requirements, but this is most likely to change in the next couple of years as research develops.
So, if you want to make a different now, switch to CFL bulbs. But, keep your eyes open for LED bulbs as they are coming down the pike, as they say, and will change the way we all illuminate our world.