Over the last 20 years, the Energy Star certified homes program has worked with builders to construct more than 1.6 million better, more energy efficient, homes. Tried-and-true strategies like air sealing and increased insulation form the core of our program, but we’re always looking for emerging technologies that will raise the bar on efficiency

One technology lighting the way towards more savings and better performance is LEDs. Today, most builders familiar with efficient lighting think CFLs. But the rapid pace of innovation, increased availability, and falling price of LEDs are likely to catch builders’ attention very soon. 

Like other emerging technologies, not all LEDs perform the same. That’s why it’s important to look for Energy Star certification, which means the bulb comes with a minimum three-year warranty, and has been independently tested for compliance with more than 20 separate industry standards and procedures. 

That said, Energy Star-certified LEDs show promising trends for an emerging technology. Since 2010, when the first LED light bulb was certified, the number has grown to 6,849 products. And the average LED product pumps out more light with less energy.

Plus, LEDs offer more features attractive to homeowners. Energy Star LEDs have a lifetime up to 25 times longer than the single year lifetime of incandescent bulbs. That means lugging out the ladder less often, if at all. In addition, more LEDs are shipping with Internet-connected features that allow smartphones to control dimming and even color. And, new shapes and sizes are emerging each year--even products that mimic old-fashioned filament bulbs like the one above. 

One of the few things holding back wider adoption of LEDs is price. LEDs are often more expensive than alternatives, but that’s changing, too. While the first Energy Star-certified LED had a retail price of $50, the average general-purpose LED bulb is now less than $10 and prices continue to drop. Some products are already less than $5, and the price can be further reduced with bulk purchases and in markets with utility rebates. 

In short, this is not your father’s efficient lighting. To learn more about ENERGY STAR certified light bulbs, visit www.energystar.gov/lightbulbs

Five Emerging Technologies to Watch