As first reported by the New York Times recently, a new life cycle assessment of illuminants conducted by Osram, a German lighting company, provides support for the belief that LEDs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs.  In fact, over the entire life of the bulb, from manufacturing to recycling, incandescent bulbs use approximately five times more energy than compact fluorescents and LED lamps.

The life cycle assessment was conducted using three Osram lamp types: a 40 W incandescent, an 8 W CFL, and an 8 W LED lamp.  Although the study was specific to Osram products, the company believes it supports the statement that LEDs are among the most environmentally friendly lighting products available.

More specifically, the life cycle assessment revealed the following:

  • LED lamps are competitive to CFLs today;
  • Future improvements of LED lamps will further cut down on energy demand; and
  • Less than 2% of total energy demand is needed for LED lamp production.

The study also kills the argument that LEDs are somehow not “green” because of the energy intensity of producing the lamps.  Such is not the case.

Of note, in the U.S., lighting accounts for roughly 11% of all residential energy use and 26% of all commercial energy use.  It’s not an insignificant aspect of the nation’s energy pie.  So having information from a life cycle analysis like this will help in actually reducing the amount of lighting energy used.

[+] LED Bulbs Save Substantial Energy by NY Times.
[+] Executive Summary: Life Cycle Assessment of Illuminants (PDF).