Are Your LEDs Really Saving You Money?

Learn the difference between good and bad LEDs

When it comes to lighting, LEDs are a hot item. With all the media attention on eco-friendly products and green living, many people try their best to conserve energy and save money by choosing ‘green’ products.

While LEDs are a green product and use less energy, the market has become flooded with low-quality imposters that won’t conserve energy or save you money. Learn how to tell the difference.

What is an LED and Why Do We Need Them?

First things first. LED is an acronym for ‘light emitting diode’. In the traditional light bulb, the filament or wire in the bulb heats up to create light. This method actually produces more heat than light.

LEDs create light through a semi-conductor chip mounted on an electronic circuit board. When energy passes through the chip, it creates bright light and virtually no heat. The result is brighter light with less or no heat produced.

In efforts to use as little energy as possible, LEDs are being developed. LEDs are more energy efficient and good for the environment because they use less energy and have no mercury content. There are many benefits of LEDs for consumers.

Longer life

LEDs could possibly last for decades meaning big savings for you.

Resistant to breakage

LEDs are rugged. They last much longer than standard bulbs.


LEDs allow you to dim the lights giving you more lighting options.

Lower utility costs

Because LEDs don’t produce heat, less heat is released into your house making it easier to cool. LEDs use less energy to produce more light giving you another break on your utility bill.

Buyer Beware

With all these benefits for both you and the environment, it almost makes you want to run right out, buy a bunch of LEDs and replace all the lights in your home. But wait just a minute.

One drawback of LEDs is the cost. Where a traditional bulb costs $1 an LED costs up to $100 – quite a difference. Knowing that consumers want to use LEDs but can’t afford costs as this, many manufacturers are selling cheap, low-quality LEDs.

How do you avoid buying imitations? The Department of Energy (DOE) is developing a rating system with a label. You will soon see this label, called the SSL Quality Advocate label, posted on all LED products. The label will feature important LED product features such as light color and energy consumption. Once all LEDs have this label, you will know what you’re buying quality.

Ease into LEDs

While you’re waiting for the cost of LEDs to lower, avoid cheap LED imitations. Just because a light bulb looks like an LED light doesn’t mean it’s saving you money or energy. Your best strategy is to replace all your bulbs gradually.

By the time you figure in the lifetime, wattage, cost of bulb, and energy costs to operate, the total cost of an LED is $154 compared to $554 for a traditional bulb (1). With this in mind, buy one quality LED at a time until you have all the bulbs in your home replaced. LEDs last for several years so if you try this strategy, by the time you replace all your bulbs the first ones you installed should still be working.

As the need for LEDs increases, manufacturers of quality LEDs will become more efficient and will lower their prices. Until then, slow and steady wins the race.

(1)Cooperative Research Network