During the winter months the days are shorter, the nights are longer and the odds are (unless you’re a hermit living in a cave) you’ll have the lights turned on for most of the day. Even a home designed to allow in plenty of natural light will be a dark place without artificial lighting if there is no natural light to come in. But the cost to have all those lights burning 12 to 18 hours per day (depending on your habits and work schedules) can add up quickly.

To keep the home bright without breaking the bank many homeowners have said farewell to the traditional incandescent light bulb in favor of the many high tech and incredibly energy efficient alternatives that have come on the marketplace in the past decade or so. While compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) was the darling of the residential lighting world when it first appeared, the high per unit costs and physical fragility have somewhat dimmed their appeal.

A form of lighting much in ascendency today is the Light Emitting Diode (LED), a bright, long lasting, rugged and ubiquitous form of illumination found in everything from flashlights and security systems, to automotive applications and of course household lighting. Here are just a few of the advantages of switching to LED lighting.

1: Long Life – LED lighting, thanks to its solid state structure, simply lasts much longer than other types of light bulbs. Typical life expectancies for lights of this type could be 100,000 hours of use, or even more. Compact fluorescent light bulbs could last as little as one tenth of that total while incandescent bulbs can only be expected to last for about 1,500 hours.

2: Operational Costs – LED lights by their nature throw off more light. To create the same amount of light that a 60 watt incandescent light bulb generates requires a CFL bulb rated at 15 watts, while an LED light requires only eight watts, according to government data. Less wattage needed translates into fewer dollars going to the electric company. In terms of kilowatt hours per year (KWh/yr), where an LED light needs 329 KWh/yr, a compact fluorescent will require 767 KWh/yr to produce the same amount of light while an incandescent bulb will need nearly 3,300! The potential cost savings of converting to LED lighting should be obvious.

3: Energy Efficiency – LED lights are more efficient, meaning that more of the electricity they consumed goes toward actually generating light when compared to other illumination systems. For example by some estimates an LED turns about 80 percent of the electrical energy it consumed into light, with only about 20 percent being lost or converted into other forms of energy such as heat. The story is almost totally reversed when describing incandescent lighting where as much as 80 percent of the energy used is lost through heat as opposed to generating light.

4: Environmental Impact – LED lighting is much gentler on the environment as the bulbs are free of the toxic chemicals found in fluorescent lighting systems such as mercury or other harmful elements. LEDs are also 100 percent recyclable, and can help reduce a home’s carbon footprint by up to a third.

We could go on but the message is obvious. We need lighting, especially in the damp and dark days of winter, but by adopting LED lighting systems we can save money and help to preserve the planet all at the same time. Now how’s that for a win-win situation?