As the president of a green tech company which specializes in energy efficient products (there is a selection of what we offer on our website www.ecocentury.ca however we have agreements to access any product on the market at competitive pricing, so if you don’t see it, just ask!) I often get asked questions relating to “greening” our worlds. There are a lot of questions about LEDs, when/where they should be used, and some misnomers regarding their efficiency and function, so let’s discuss!

Why LEDs? Simply, there’s not another viable alternative at the moment, nor in the foreseeable future. That is not to say it’s not a fantastic product, however there still seems to be much hesitation regarding LED’s.

We charged headlong into the wonderful world of CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs) without consideration. What, a cool twirly bulb that can handle old wiring and won’t blow in a few months? So what if it contains mercury…and is inefficiently manufactured in coal-fired plants…and needs to be recycled through a careful process…and is being linked to illness? We can overlook all its shortcomings in the interest of “greening” our environments, can’t we? But it’s not really “greening” anything, is it?!

So perhaps we should revert to incandescents? Drive en masse to the States and raid the Walmarts for these dinosaurs that rightfully should be facing extinction? Let’s not get crazy here. Those fill our landfills…and suck power…and BC Hydro isn’t overly generous these days.

METRO LIVING ZINE NEWS IMAGE CREDIT: Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Then along came the Light Emitting Diode (LED). No mercury? Check! Longevity? Lasting over two decades and counting, that’s an affirmative! Clean energy that doesn’t harm our health? Fantastic!

So what’s the hang-up? Why is it taking so long to convert to the LED from the other harmful products? After all, LED’s have been around for over 15 years, there must be a catch!

The catch is cash. After all, this solution doesn’t come cheap. The wee MR16s that we use in track lighting will run you $10 a pop. Larger potlights can cost you up to $50 each. When you are retrofitting a home, those costs add up. So why should we?

Because the end result IS savings. Cost savings in electrical bills (even more so than CFLs). Long term cost savings in quality product purchases (count up all those replacement bulbs you won’t be purchasing). Saving the environment from all that product waste and saving on labour from changing the bulbs (oh, the jokes…how many people does it take to change an LED…NONE!). Places where seniors or the disabled reside should be outfitted with LEDs so Grandma isn’t climbing up on a chair. I recall a startling lesson in business school, that mentioned why the rich get rich and stay rich…it is because they invest in quality, long term products, instead of feeding into the disposable economy. Why buy a washing machine every five years when you can invest a bit more and have it last twenty? The same holds true for lighting.

What about light quality? They have an awful displeasing colour!

Not anymore. LEDs have come a long way, baby. They are in pleasing hues, softer tones, and even mimic the old incandescent bulbs if you purchase a “warm white”. Not only that, but the lumen intensity is instantaneous…they don’t require “warming up” like other types of bulbs, which is an important safety feature.

What about the warnings about garbage products being sold on the retail market?

Heed them. There are LED products coming from all corners of the globe, and if they look like they’ve fallen off the back of a truck, they probably have. Ensure whatever you are purchasing has CUL, CSA, UL  certifications (look for the sticker!). All bulbs should offer a warranty (EcoCentury Technologies Inc. , supplies only products with a minimum three year warranty). Garbage products can cause injury, damage property, or merely burn out far too quickly thereby wasting your hard-earned money.

It’s time to reconsider what you are investing in, from its creation through to its disposal…we need to be accountable to our environment with the choices we make with our purchases. Speak with your wallet. An initial capital outlay will assure you of long term benefits, and not just financial ones. However saving a few bucks on top of environmental stewardship? That feels especially good! That’s why!