Incandescent light bulbs—the ones that we screwed into table lamps and overhead fixtures since the beginning of electricity—have become relics since the U.S. government ordered that manufacturers stop making most of them in 2014. Is the compact fluorescent light bulb next?

The twisty CFL bulbs, which can last up to five years and are much more energy efficient than the old incandescents, were once hailed as the latest and greatest energy- and money-saver for household lighting. But LEDs—which come in light bulb form and also are built into many light fixtures, so you’ll never have to change a light bulb again—have proven to be a better energy value.

Both CFLs and LEDs use up to 75 percent less energy than incandescents. But LEDs last much longer than CFLs—up to 25,000 hours compared with 10,000 or so. 

Here’s why LEDs are quickly becoming America’s favorite light bulb:

• LEDs don’t get hot to the touch while they burn. Incandescents release about 90 percent of their energy as heat, while LEDs waste little heat and CFLs release about 80 percent of their energy as heat, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

• Unlike CFLs, LEDS contain no mercury, so their environmental impact is minimal.

• The Department of Energy has said LED lighting “has the potential to fundamentally change the future of lighting in the United States.”

• You can buy LED bulbs, but an LED fixture has the light built right into it, so no bulb is visible and no bulb will ever need changing.

• The price of LED bulbs has dropped from about $100 a bulb five years ago to around $5 today.

As the popularity of LEDs grows, could the CFL—like the incandescent—become a museum piece—a relic of a bygone, and less energy-efficient, era?

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