In 2011 South Africa banned the import of incandescent lights, and the aim is to phase them out completely in 2016. Eventually South Africans are going to have to choose between CFLs (compact fluorescents), halogens and of course, LED. Unfortunately the switch towards a more efficient light bulb is harder than the government anticipated. This is mainly because conventional incandescent bulbs have been serving the South African public for so long. They are relatively inexpensive, they are bright, they have predictable dimming capabilities and they come with a warm glow.
Apart from the obvious factors mentioned above, people tend to cringe when they see the price tags associated with LED bulbs. When they first entered the market they easily reached up to R400 per bulb, although the high demand has brought it down to a more affordable R80 - R160 range. However, the decrease in price still can't be compared to a R15 incandescent, so where exactly is the consumer going to score? More importantly, is it worth making the switch?
For the most part people tend to by halogen if not incandescent bulbs, because they are very similar in shape, brightness and price. In fact, people buy them without really noticing. On the flip-side, halogens are only about 25% more efficient than incandescent bulbs, which isn't much. As for CFLs, they come with several flaws and it's not surprising that they are constantly losing space in the market. They've been the most unpopular choice for quite some time now.
This leaves LED bulbs as the only alternative worth discussing. Even though the initial R100 price tag is enough to deter consumers from buying, it's important to gain a long-term perspective. For starters, the average efficiency of an LED bulb is 78 lm/W (lumens per Watt), while incandescent bulbs average at around 13 lm/W. This alone is quite a difference, but the big differences don't stop there. LED bulbs use one sixth the energy and it can last up to twenty five times longer. All of a sudden the initial cost of the LED bulb doesn't sound very expensive, considering it will have a positive effect on your electricity bill every month.
But what exactly keeps people from buying LED bulbs except for the price? The hesitation is rooted in the warmth and color of the light, along with it's dimming capabilities. Given that not all LEDs can be used for dimming purposes, you will find a big range of LEDs that do. You'll also be happy to know that high quality LEDs come relatively close to creating the same warm white light as conventional bulbs.
So, to answer the question of whether LEDs really help you save? Yes they do. It might be difficult to cough up the price at first, but it's going to save you loads of money in the long run.