Out With the New, In With the Newer
Light-emitting diodes are tiny electronic devices that emit far more light per unit of electricity than incandescent lamps or even compact fluorescents. But in the move to replace energy-gobbling incandescents, LEDs face a steeper climb in the marketplace than compact fluorescents do because they are more expensive.
Ikea, not known as a retailer of pricey products, announced that beginning in 2016 all of the lighting products it sells will be LEDs, as will all of the lighting in its stores. The company phased out incandescents in 2010 (and plastic bags in 2007).
Congress passed a law in 2007 that mandates a phaseout of traditional incandescents, although House Republicans have intermittently sought to repeal it. The national phaseout begins with the larger-wattage bulbs, starting with the 100-watt variety this year.
Some of Ikea’s floor lamps and table lamps will be of a type that only accepts LED bulbs; others will have standard screw-base sockets that can accommodate compact fluorescents or incandescents.
Ikea said it had undertaken a global study and found that 43 percent of Americans have at least one LED lamp in their homes. In China, the figure is 80 percent, in Russia 65 percent, and in Sweden, 61 percent, the company said.
Willingness to spend at least $10 on a bulb hinges on consumers’ perceptions of energy costs. An Ikea survey found that 69 percent of Americans believe that “lighting accounts for up to 40 percent of their electric bill,” the company said. But according to the Energy Information Administration, lighting consumes about 18 percent of the energy used in the residential and commercial sectors, and 13 percent of total national electricity consumption.
At a national residential average price of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, a 60-watt incandescent that burns for six hours a day would cost about $14.50 a year in consumed energy. LED manufacturers say they can produce the same amount of light for 9 watts. That would amount to savings of $12.20 a year.
“People need to understand what they’re buying,” said Mike Ward, the chief executive of Ikea in the United States. And prices will come down further, he predicted. The company now sells a lamp that is the equivalent of a 40-watt incandescent for $12.99, but “I wouldn’t be surprised to cut that in half in the next four years,” he said. Soon it will introduce an equivalent to the 60-watt incandescent, he said.
In switching to compact fluorescents, some consumers found that those bulbs did not always give good light or could not be used with a dimmer. “That kind of mind-set gets transferred automatically to another technology,” Mr. Ward said of the LEDs. But LEDs do not have those shortcomings, he said, and unlike compact fluorescents, they do not contain harmful mercury.
Ikea claims a 20-year lifetime for the LEDs, far longer than that of an incandescent or a compact fluorescent, although some people who have bought the lamps have reported that the bulbs did not always live up to that claim.
Ref: The New York Times
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