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Let there be light! LED, that is

If you're reading this, chances are you are interested in knowing how you can make your home more energy efficient. The conversation around energy efficiency can sometimes stay at the high level – renewable energy, climate policies, hybrid vehicles and other topics that have captured national and international attention. When viewed through this lens, you might wonder what you can actually do to contribute to a more energy efficient world.

While investing in solar power for your home would be a huge asset for your wallet and the planet, the push toward a cleaner planet doesn't always have to be an all-or-nothing game. There are small things that individuals can do in their own homes that will not only help the environment, but save them money at the same time. We could go on and on about the hundreds of ways to save electricity, but the fact is that you can make a few relatively inexpensive changes to your home that will save you money and take harmful pollutants out the the environment.

Light bulbs get a facelift
Light bulb efficiency is commonly measured by the ratio of lumens (how much light a bulb gives off during its life) per watt. This makes it pretty straightforward to see how energy efficient a bulb is – more lumens per watt means a more energy efficient light bulb.

Back in 2007, the federal government passed the Energy Independence and Security Act which prohibited light bulb manufacturers from producing any more traditional incandescent light bulbs. These bulbs had a very low lumen per watt ratio, with Clean Technica reporting that a traditional incandescent typically gets 13-18 lumens per watt. This was fine in the old days, but from an environmental and now a legal standpoint, it's not going to cut it today.

After the ban on incandescent bulbs, manufacturers began producing compact fluorescent bulbs. This kind of bulb proved to be much more efficient – 55 to 70 lumens per watt – making them the darling of environmentally conscious homeowners and government programs like Energy Star, which put its seal of approval on the new fluorescents.

Compact fluorescents have enjoyed an increasing share of the market as incandescents get phased out from store shelves. But they shouldn't rest on their laurels just yet – one rising star in the light bulb market is fast approaching.

These aren't your parents' light bulbs
When LED lights first arrived on the market, consumers shied away from them because they were so expensive. In addition, they had a lumen to watt ratio similar to that of the already familiar compact fluorescent light bulb. It's a tough sell to get people to pay more for the same performance.

But that's when LED lights took a turn similar to that of solar. As Popular Mechanics reported, the new light bulbs were extremely expensive upon their introduction to the market – up to $30 per bulb. But as technological and manufacturing process improved, the cost of the bulbs started to drop. Not only were they cheaper, they performed better in regards to energy efficiency. In just two short years, LED bulbs went from an unproven novelty to a product with serious staying power – staying power that comes from bringing homeowners savings with little upfront costs. Clean Technica reported that LED bulbs consistently outperform compact fluorescent light bulbs – getting up to an impressive 100 lumens per watt. This marked a 50 percent increase in efficiency since 2012.

Falling prices and ever-increasing efficiency potential have finally led consumers to take notice, and you should too. Lighting a building is one of the biggest portion of the overall energy bill, and with LED bulbs, you can keep your home brightly lit while saving both electricity and hundreds of dollars per year.

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