In late 2017, we saw a study from the University of Michigan that talked about the best approach to saving energy with light bulbs. In short, it suggested replacing all incandescent and halogen bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) or LEDs, but not necessarily replacing CFLs with LEDs yet.
The reason? CFLs are already highly efficient compared to incandescent and halogen bulbs, while you don't step up efficiency nearly as much when replacing CFLs with LEDs. The study points out that LEDs may continue coming down in price and are likely to get even more efficient, so waiting another couple years (or until a CFL goes out) is a good idea for CFL replacement.
The study also points to ideas like replacing more frequently used bulbs first and considering the most efficient bulbs (LEDs) sooner in places like California, Hawaii, and Washington, DC, where electricity costs are high. We think all of this is accurate when your only concern is electricity use and saving money.
But there are other reasons to consider replacing CFLs with LED bulbs right now:
That said, we should point out that not all LED bulbs are created equal. Some brands provide a high-quality lighting experience while others -- usually inexpensive bulbs with unfamiliar brands -- could fizzle, dim, render colors poorly, etc. We encourage sticking from known brands who have reputations to maintain. Also consider looking for 25,000 hour ratings on LED bulbs -- shorter ratings usually come from low-quality components.
In any case, if you do replace CFLs, don't forget to take the CFLs to an appropriate recycling center. Because they contain a small amount of mercury, they should never be thrown in the trash.