Today LEDs are about 10 times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, which will start being phased out in the U.S. in 2012 (the phaseout of incandescents has already begun in Australia and parts of Europe and South America). LEDs are about two times more efficient than compact fluorescent bulbs — sometimes called “twisty bulbs” because of the distinct spiral shape — which also have a good dose of mercury in them, making disposal problematic (not an issue with LEDs).
The best LED bulbs have a lifespan of about 20 years, assuming three hours of use a day, about 20 to 25 times your average incandescent bulb. And, according to Haitz, who is now retired, performance is only going to get better. “Everything indicates we can do another 10 to 20 years of that improvement trend,” he says.