Let’s compare CFLs and LEDs, the current two most popular light bulb types available. Both CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) and LED (light-emitting diode) are energy-saving alternatives to incandescent lamps. That’s as far as similarities go.

Much of the differences between CFL and LED are in their technology and quality of energy savings. A residential CFL can use up to 80% less watts than incandescent lamps—a 13W CFL can replace a 60W incandescent, for example. CFLs have a lifespan of about 6 times longer than incandescent lamps. Due to the manner in which they emit light, CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury, so they need to be disposed of properly when changed out to avoid the risk of released mercury vapors if a bulb breaks.

LED lamps take energy savings to another level. A residential LED lamp uses 85% less watts than a comparable incandescent and 30% less watts than a CFL. A 9W LED lamp can replace a 60W incandescent lamp. An LED’s lifespan can reach up to 50,000 hours—6 times that of a CFL and nearly 50 times that of an incandescent lamp. LEDs are an investment with a significant payback because of their long life and reduced wattage.

Not only are these advantages to LED monetary, but also environmental. They use much less energy than incandescent lamps and CFLs and therefore help reduce more greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Unlike CFLs, LEDs do not emit mercury or UV.  Investing in LEDs contribute to not only better savings but also a cleaner, greener conscience.