LEDIf you haven’t been introduced to an LED bulb yet, get ready because they are outshining the competition. 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, then, the bulb would pay for itself in about two years, or less. Recent price drops make bulbs even more cost-effective than ever.  LED bulbs are now entering the market at under $3 per bulb. Ikea and Costco are offering high-quality LED bulbs for less than $5.

Notably, Philips’ award-winning LED bulbs have also come down in price.   From $45 just a year ago, it has now partnered with Home Depot and utilities to bring the price of its 60-watt LED equivalent to $5 (without a utility rebate).  The Philips Everyday is a 8.5W, 800 lumen LED bulb with an estimated yearly energy cost of $1.02 (based on 3 hours/day, 11¢/kWh).   Home Depot recently announced that  starting May 1, that price becomes twice as good.  It will be selling 2-for-1 packs of the bulb for that same $4.97 price in May, June, and July, while supplies last  (although that item is currently backordered, probably based upon high demand). That is under just $2.50 per bulb, making the price per bulb equivalent to popular 2-packs of CFL and incandescent bulbs. And Wal-Mart has entered the fray by selling its line of Great Value LEDs for less than $6.  Cree, the American LED behemoth, continues leading not only in the actual LED chip technology, but has been releasing value priced lighting in direct competition with Philips (Dutch based lighting superpower), for consumer LED lights and bulbs.   The CREE A19 has currently dropped its price to below $7.   Some utility programs are reducing the cost of 11 watt LED bulbs to about $3.33 per bulb, such as the one sponsored by SDG&E below:

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To provide some context,  even Consumer Reports is now promoting adopting of LED bulbs.   The reputable magazine states that “these bulbs are claimed to rival the look, dimming ability, and light quality of incandescents; contain no mercury (as compact fluorescent lightbulbs do); and last up to five times longer than CFLs and 50 times as long as incandescents.”     It found that “the best LEDs outperformed the compact fluorescent bulbs on every count.”   And no wonder;   they are dimmable, the color is better, they last longer and save more money over the long run.  In fact, if every 60-watt incandescent bulb in America were replaced with an 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.  One company, NightN,  offers an LED light bulb that uses 80% less energy than 60 watt incandescent light bulbs.

But this is just the beginning.    Predictions are that this year, we will witness the beginning of the LED Bulb Price Wars, with LED bulb lines from: 3M, Energizer, Samsung, Osram/Sylvania, GE, Verbatium, Acuitybrands and countless others, all hitting shelves.    So if you’ve not replaced all of your lightbulbs with LED bulbs yet(our house is now ALL LED),  this year may be the time to make the plunge.  Better color, better savings, better for the planet……this investment is amongst the brightest ones around.