To understand LED light benefits, it’s important to understand the difference between the two bulbs. LED light bulbs produce light when an electrical current passes through them. In CFL bulbs, an electric current flows between electrodes at each end of a gas-filled tube. The reaction creates ultraviolet light and heat, which is then changed into light when it hits a phosphor coating on the bulb’s interior. This process takes anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes to complete, according to ENERGY STAR, which is why it can seem as if your CFL light takes a while to be fully lit.

CFLs use 25-35% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs, but if you really want to make the biggest environmental impact on the environment, choosing LEDs is the way to go. Residential LEDs, especially those rated by ENERGY STAR, use more than 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. Energy.gov notes that by 2027 widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh of electricity, the equivalent of annual electrical output of 44 electric power plants (1000 megawatts each). It’s also a total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices.

Here are some other differences to keep in mind when examining CFL vs LED bulbs:

  • LEDs emit very little heat. In contrast, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat, CFLs release about 80% of their energy as heat, according to Energy.gov.
  • Another LED light benefit is that LEDs, because they emit light in a specific direction, do not need diffusers or reflectors that trap lights. This helps increase LED efficiency for uses such as downlights (recessed downlights are common in residential kitchens, hallways and bathrooms) or task lighting.
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