Executives for LED technology maker Cree must be pinching themselves this week: Mammoth consumer products company GE has announced a 40-watt replacement GE Energy Smart LED bulb that will likely reach store shelves by late in 2010 or early in 2011.
The bulb is designed to use 9 watts of energy, which represents a 77 percent energy savings over a 40-watt incandescent bulb. It is designed to last more than 25 times as long at 25,000 hours or 17 years, which will be a thrill to me and my husband. It is supposed to produce almost as much illumination as the incandescent sort (450 lumens, which is the Energy Star threshold for replacements).
Too other pluses to highlight here: the bulbs put out less heat, so you won't burn your fingers when you DO need to replace them, and they contain no mercury.
The biggest ouch factor will be the price: these bulbs might cost $40 to $50, although GE isn't being specific and says retailers will lead the way. That may be tough to stomach over the next couple of years, but after that, incandescent bulbs won't be an alternative as federal legislation takes hold. In January 2012, 100-watt incandescents will go end of life, 75 watts will be phased out in January 2013, and 40-watt and 40-watt versions can no longer be made after January 2014.