Money-Saving LED Lighting Is a Tough Sell

Lights burn less money over their lifetime, but $40 or $100 is a stiff entry fee.

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A tiny fan in its base helps cool the LED light.
A tiny fan in its base helps cool the LED light.

The latest wrinkle in LED lighting is a three-way bulb, much like might be used in a living room lamp. The EarthLED EvoLux R gets successively brighter as you hit the switch.

It's not cheap, though, at $100 for a version that's as bright as a 100-watt incandescent bulb.

Of course, maker Advanced Lumonics says the bulb lasts 11 years and touts the money you'd save by not replacing power-hungry incandescents. I'm all for energy savings that equate to dollar savings, but LED bulbs seem a tough sell.

For one, lighting aesthetics (color, for one) make all the difference. Consumers want to try one of these bulbs before committing to a houseful. But a $100 trial is expensive. (Advanced Lumonics does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.)

Cheaper versions include a 100-watt equivalent that doesn't dim at $80 and 60-watt versions at $40. Even the last one is a stiff entry fee. Plus, let's face it, most of us can't think in terms of decade-long savings when the initial cost is so high.

Something like geothermal heat, which also takes years to get payback, costs only about twice as much as a conventional system. And unlike geothermal heat, light bulbs get broken. Fatally. Especially in living room lamps.


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