Question: I keep hearing that LED lights can save me a ton of money on my lighting costs—but they seem pretty expensive up-front. Are they worth it?

Answer: There are a lot of reasons why LEDs make a far, far better choice than other types of lightbulbs—but up-front cost does seem to be the barrier for most people when it comes to replacing what they’ve already got.

Before you decide, though, here are the reasons why you might want to invest in LEDs.

LEDs are more efficient

For one thing, there’s the math. LED lights can save up to 85% of the electricity used by incandescent bulbs, and up to 50% of the electricity used by compact fluorescents (CFLs). They’re even 20%-30% more efficient than fluorescent tube lights.

That’s because most of the energy used by incandescent and fluorescent bulbs is converted to heat, rather than light—nice if you’re chilly, but useless (and even counter-productive) if you just want to see what you’re doing. (For a great demo of the difference between LEDs and incandescents, watch what they do to a chocolate bunny.) The Canadian government is banning incandescents altogether in 2012, so LEDs are a relative inevitability anyway.

LEDs don’t contain mercury

There’s an environmental angle beyond simple energy savings, though—LEDs, unlike compact fluorescents, don’t contain any mercury, which makes their disposal much less problematic than CFLs.

LEDs create a nicer atmosphere

From an ambience perspective, many LED bulbs are dimmable, and don’t suffer through being turned on and off frequently, making them more usable in a restaurant setting than CFLs.

LEDs are eligible for lighting rebates and incentives

Now, it’s true that LEDs cost considerably more than conventional bulbs up-front: 25 times the cost of an incandescent. At more than $30 a bulb, the investment in LEDs can certainly be prohibitive for small businesses. However, when you compare the overall cost for 50,000 hours of electricity, LEDs are the clear winner: $85.75 versus $352.50 for the equivalent amount over incandescents.

Many provincial governments have sponsored electricity retrofit programs for small businesses to replace their lighting, making the cost a little more manageable—and coupled with the long-term saving, replacing your light bulbs might well prove worth it.

Are you set to replace your lightbulbs anytime soon? What are you planning?

Image credit: dnak