The Past, Present, and Future of Home Lighting

Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Edison didn't invent the light bulb; many historians actually credit Sir Humphry Davy with producing the first incandescent bulb almost 70 years earlier than Edison. That's not to take away from ol' Tom, of course, since his improvements to the design and construction, plus his own power distribution system, made the product commercially viable.

Indeed, Edison's contributions were significant enough that the basic design of incandescent light bulbs hasn't changed much from his 1871 model. That's almost 140 years of fortitude—or a product that's screaming for a modern, efficient replacement, depending on your viewpoint.

Today's compact fluorescents lighten your home and your bills

The problem with Edison's design is efficiency, or a lack thereof, since around 90% of the energy consumed by incandescent bulbs is emitted as heat, not light. That doesn't fit in too well in an age where energy conservation, green living, and budget considerations spur our buying decisions. That's why compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which are far more efficient, have been anointed as today's preferred lighting choice.

The transition was a bit bumpy, thanks to early concerns about mercury content and questions about reliability, but today's CFLs provide homeowners with safe, efficient, natural-looking light. Plus, they save up to 75% of initial lighting energy over incandescents and last up to 15 times as long. That's why McMillin homes includes CFLs as standard items in the kitchens and bathrooms of the homes we build.

Look to LEDs for tomorrow's lighting needs

While nobody knows for certain what the future holds, it appears the next big thing in lighting technology likely will be light emitting diodes (LEDs). LED lighting has been around since the 1960s, but recent improvements to the technology and resulting products have resulted in home applications that may soon edge out CFLs as the green lighting products of choice.

LED lighting is more efficient, durable, versatile, and longer lasting than fluorescent lighting. Moreover, if you choose ENERGY STAR-qualified LED lighting, you can rest assured knowing you're buying a product that meets strict efficiency and performance criteria. I don't know about you, but I relish the idea of changing light bulbs every 22 years or so.

The catch is that LED lighting is still quite expensive; the average cost of an LED lamp currently hovers in the mid-$20 range. Granted, you save money over the life of the bulb, but the up-front costs tend to scare away even the most-ardent conservationists. Until LEDs come down in price, then, it may be best to stick with CFLs.

Tagged in : Energy Efficiency   Green Living