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Surprising Science

Why You Shouldn’t Go All-CFL Just Yet

A combined US/UK study claims that LED bulbs have a slight environmental edge over compact fluorescents, and with continued improvements that advantage is expected to grow significantly fairly soon.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn


What’s the Latest Development?

A study just out from the US Department of Energy and the UK’s N14 Energy Ltd. says that light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) are slightly better than compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) when it comes to environmental friendliness, and they’re expected to outperform CFLs in this area within the next five years. The report examined the total impact of both bulbs, as well as incandescent bulbs, including the energy and resources needed from manufacturing all the way to disposal. It’s the first public report of its kind that goes into detail on LEDs’ environmental footprint.

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What’s the Big Idea?

As expected, incandescents are still the least energy-efficient and most environmentally unfriendly of the three bulbs. There isn’t much difference in power consumption between LEDs and CFLs, so the two bulbs were graded based on the resources needed to make them. Here, LEDs outperformed CFLs in all areas except one — the amount of hazardous waste requiring landfill disposal — which is something that scientists believe will be rectified fairly soon. “[T]he LED bulb of 2017 [is expected to] have 50 percent less environmental impacts than today’s LED lamps and 70 percent less impacts that those found in today’s CFLs, which are not expected to change significantly in the near future.”

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com


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