While it’s been a relatively quiet year thus far on the energy-efficient light bulb front (compared to last year at least when it seemed that I was averaging one lighting-related story a week), a bit of breaking news today that I couldn’t pass up: The Rolls-Royce of LED bulbs, the L Prize Bulb (code name: the EnduraLED 10W A19 Dimmable Bulb) from Dutch electronics behemoth Philips, will be available nationwide to consumers for the first time starting this Sunday, Earth Day, at online and brick-and-mortar retailers such as Home Depot.


Sure, the rigorously tested state-of-the-art bulb — the winning (and only) entrant in the Department of Energy’s $10 million Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize (L Prize) competition — is a triumph of energy-efficient lighting technology: Its lifespan is an estimated 30,000 hours (more than 20 years when used four hours a day) and it produces 900 lumens of light while only consuming 10 watts of juice, making it 83 percent more efficient than standard 60-watt incandescents.


According to the folks at Philips, if every 60-watt incandescent in the U.S. was replaced with the bulb, the nation would collectively save $3.9 billion in energy costs in one year. Such a swap-out would curb the emission of 20 million metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of removing 4 million cars from the road. And oh yeah, the instant-on bulb is dimmable, durable (no glass components), omni-directional, mercury-free, and boasts a 2700 Kelvin color temperature that closely mimics the light produced by an incandescent bulb.


While all of the above sounds mighty agreeable, its the L Prize Bulb’s $60 price tag, not its game-changing technology or decidedly radical appearance, that’s garnered the most buzz. Plus, there’s the fact that Philips is a foreign headquartered company and managed to snag a whole lot of government cash to develop the bulb in a contest with no other entrants.


Also on MNN: 8 inspiring time-lapse videos of Earth 


But back to the bulb’s wildly prohibitive cost, which, in the end, may not be all that prohibitive. The bulb’s initial price of $60 has already been discounted to $50 by Philips, and the company has partnered with more than 280 utility companies across the country to offer rebates of between $15 and $25 for the bulb. Another 230 utilities are expected to offer rebates once the bulb receives Energy Star certification this coming June.


In the end, with rebates, the L Prize Bulb could cost as low as $25 which is still on the spendy side of things especially when considering that CLF bulbs, although less efficient, filled with a trace amount of mercury, and boasting significantly shorter lifespans, can be purchased for less than $10. My question to you: Will Philips' L Prize Bulb be on your Earth Day shopping list? Or is a light bulb with a sticker price of between $25 and $60 one big no-go?


Also on MNN: What's the brighter choice — CFLs or incandescents?


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