LED vs. CFL: Which Bulb is Better?

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For homeowners aiming to control energy costs, reducing household lighting expenses is a worthwhile target. Lighting accounts for 5 percent to 10 percent of total home energy consumption and the average household spends between $100 and $200 a year to pay for it. Today, incandescent bulbs are limited to halogen fixtures, but you have two better options to control energy costs of lighting your home. The best news is, making the change can be as simple as unscrewing a light bulb.

Compact Fluorescent

Known as CFLs, these bulbs are basically mini versions of the long fluorescent tubes regularly seen in stores and in other commercial applications. However, today’s CFLs are available in a range of softer color temperatures so you don’t have to deal with the harsh light associated with fluorescent tubes. A CFL bulb that produces the same amount of illumination as a 60-watt incandescent bulb consumes about 13 watts of electricity. The expected lifespan is 8,000 hours.

Pros Of CFLs

  • Energy consumption is lower than incandescent bulbs.
  • Lower upfront cost than LED lamps.
  • Generates bright light that diffuses evenly in a room.

Cons Of CFLs

  • Requires a few minutes to warm up to full brightness.
  • Unless specifically labeled, most CFLs are incompatible with dimmer switches.
  • Less effective in very cold temperatures.


Light-emitting diodes are technically termed “lamps” instead of bulbs. An LED lamp incorporates a diode array that generates light when energized by electricity. The stand-out advantage of LEDs is extremely long life. Most consumer-grade models claim life spans of 25,000+ hours—three times the CFL lifespan. A 10-watt LED bulb produces as much light as a 13-watt CFL.

Pros Of LED Lamps

  • Lowest energy consumption of all options.
  • Longest expected life and reliability.
  • Instant on—zero warm-up to reach full brightness.
  • Many are dimmer-compatible.
  • Not sensitive to cold temperatures.

Cons Of LEDs

  • Present retail cost is two to three times CFL price, though prices are dropping.
  • Light is more directional than CFLs and doesn’t spread as efficiently.

Looking for more ways to control energy costs? In greater Cincinnati, contact the efficiency pros at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

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"We scheduled an estimate AND a tune-up. We knew something was wrong with our furnace, but hoped we could make it through the rest of the season. Upon telling Bill what our furnace was doing, he warned us immediately what the possible outcome was going to be; a cracked heat exchanger. He watched the flames roll backward, tested carbon monoxide levels, which were so high they meter’s last reading was 5,600 before saying “high”. He immediately shut it down, tagged it, and explained that with levels that high and children in our home he wanted off right away. He continued his inspection and showed us via a camera that not only was it cracked in multiple places, but had holes all over it. He gave us a few options for repairing it; his knowledge as well as genuine concern was beneficial and refreshing. Luckily we also scheduled an estimator, Micah, to come too and we were able to get costs between repairing and replacing (with several options). We decided to replace with a much higher efficiency furnace and one sized properly to our home. Hands down, not only did they both provide us great service and knowledge, but without sounding dramatic, they may have saved our lives. This was our first time calling Apollo, but it won’t be our last."
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