Smarty Pants: Light Up Your Business’s Life by Investing in LEDs

An expert piece by Garret Stembridge from



In the past decade, cities from Atlanta to Philadelphia to Seattle have installed light emitting diode (LED) bulbs in their traffic lights, cutting down on energy use and maintenance costs while providing motorists with a brighter and safer alternative to traditional incandescent lights.

Now LED technology is available for your office and even for your home. Though the bulbs will cost you a lot more, you’ll save money in the long run because they will last much longer and use less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs or compact fluorescent lights.

CFLs: A Temporary Fix?

Incandescent light bulbs are well on their way to extinction. Congress already has mandated that no more 100-watt and 75-watt bulbs will be made, and 40s and 60s are to be phased out after this year as well. They have been replaced in many homes and offices by compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), which cost more but use less energy.

But CFLs may not be here to stay, either. LEDs, originally developed as single bulbs for instrument panels, pen lights and Christmas lights, gained momentum once manufacturers figured out how to combine LEDs in clusters of up to 180 bulbs.

A Bright Future for LEDs

So why would we embrace LEDs so soon after we chose CFLs to light up our lives?

  • LED bulbs last up to 10 times longer than CFLs.
  • LED bulbs are solid and therefore more durable than either CFLs or incandescent bulbs.
  • LED bulbs are cost-effective. It’s true that they are much more expensive than other bulbs, but they use a lot less energy. As an added bonus, they help save on air conditioning bills because, unlike incandescent bulbs, they remain cool and don’t add to the heat in a room.
  • Unlike with CFLs, no mercury is used to manufacture LED bulbs. A toxic metal, mercury can contaminate water and food supplies and can cause adverse health effects for some people.
  • People who dislike the harsher light created by CFLs may actually prefer softer LEDs, even to incandescent.

Now let’s take a look at the money you can expect to save in your home or business by using LED light bulbs, based on information provided by

LED CFL Incandescent
Light bulb life span 50,000 hours 10,000 hours 1,200 hours
Cost per bulb $35.95 $3.95 $1.25
Kilowatts used over 50 hours 500 700 3,000
Cost of electricity $50 $70 $300
Bulbs needed 1 5 42
Total cost for 50,000 hours $85.75 $89.75 $352.50

Keep in mind that these figures are for only one light bulb. If you use 25 bulbs in your home or business, you will save $6,568.75 by switching from incandescent bulbs to CFLs and another $100 by using LEDs.

You should also remember that the cost of any new technology will continue to decrease as manufacturers compete with one another to offer a better, more efficient and more affordable product to the public. That means you will pay less for LED bulbs in the future, making them an even better choice to light up your office, your home and your life.

Garret Stembridge works for, who have implemented sustainability practices at their locations, like this Fontana self storage facility in California.