Finally, LED lights are becoming affordable - and more and more common. We bought our first LED bulbs a couple months ago at Home Depot. Out of curiosity, I had stopped in to see if they were carrying them yet. I didn't see any and asked the first HD employee I saw.
"Sold out," he said, "should get more in Friday."
I looked at the one empty slot on the shelves - amidst hundreds of options for different bulbs of all types, shapes and sizes. "That's a good sign," I thought to myself.
I went back the next weekend and picked up a few bulbs that fit these weird candelabra fixtures we have in our new rental. They're not super cheap - about $14 for a pack of two. But they use about 90% less energy than the old incandescent bulbs, so they'll pay for themselves over time. And when I see the coal plant burning less than a mile from our house, and know that we just took demand down a notch, that's priceless.
The light quality is great. Here are the old bulbs:
And the new LEDs:
For more info on the benefits of LEDs and links to more resources, check out this recent post on Aedi Construction's blog.
As most people know by now, Compact Florescent Lights (CFLs) are also big energy savers compared to the old fashioned bulbs - using on the order of 75% less energy. But their mercury content has always been a concern. On balance, they're worth it - they require burning less coal, which spews mercury into the air and water - and they can be recycled. Your local Dept. of Public Works should have a mechanism for safely collecting old CFLs and Waste Management has mail-in recycling kits.
But now that LEDs are so accessible, it's time to go to the next level. Be a market-leading consumer and show demand for them, which will help bring the prices down even more, even faster, helping them become the norm - and helping society make a big step towards the dramatic reductions in energy demand we need to make in the next couple of years.