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Keep Lee County Beautiful Tip of the Week: LED Lighting: A Bright Idea
November 15, 2017

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As Lee County residents well know, one of our most famous snowbirds was Thomas Edison, who created a viable incandescent light bulb in the late 1800s (building on the work of others), which vastly improved our lives. He found the sweet spot of energy availability, mass demand, and the right filament to create the miracle of light upon demand. Unfortunately, most of the electricity that passes through these filaments for the last 100 years has been converted to heat, while only 5 percent or less actually produces the light. Today, we have the advantage of LED lighting, which gives us a whole new opportunity to be excited. The principle by which it works in simple terms is that two semiconductors made of a material like silicon wafers are stacked. One is positively charged and one is negatively charged.

When electricity is passed into the first wafer, it is drawn to the other wafer by its magnetic attraction, completing the circuit. This brilliant breakthrough is that there are holes in the second wafer, with excited electrons escaping through them and becoming visible light. Unlike incandescent bulbs, the efficiency factor is in the 80 to 90 percent range for light, with the amount of heat being dramatically reduced. For example, you can replace a 60 watt incandescent lightbulb with a 10 watt LED bulb, obtaining the same amount of light at 1/6 the cost. In addition, according to Consumer Reports, LED light bulbs can last up to five times longer than any comparable bulb on the market. One study showed that the cost to run an incandescent light bulb six hours a day for 12 years would cost over $200, while an LED equivalent would only cost less than $40. In addition, you would replace the incandescent 21 times over that time period, while only needing one LED bulb.

That's why incandescent light bulbs are being phased out: an almost complete ban on their sale started in 2014 and will take full effect in 2020. Simply put, they waste a lot of energy and don't last very long.

The best rule to follow is first reduce, secondly reuse, and finally recycle.

This sustainability tip is courtesy of Keep Lee County Beautiful Inc. For more information, visit www.klcb.org, email info@klcb.org, or call (239) 334-3488.

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