Traditionally (or over the last few years, anyway), Earth Day has been co-opted by consumer lighting companies to launch their newest, most energy-efficient innovations. That, or they’ve used it as an opportunity to bury the incandescent bulb once and for all.

Philips, naturally, is an active participant in this big-news-on-Earth Day tradition. And this year, the Dutch tech behemoth, which also recently announced a nifty portable addition to its Hue family of smart bulbs, certainly isn’t passing up the opportunity to introduce a no-frills — yet totally game-changing — contender in the relentless race to produce the cheapest high-quality LED on the market: an A19 60-watt equivalent LED bulb tha retails for $4.97 without utility rebates.

I lost track of my “who’s cheaper than who” tally a while back (but I think Cree was leading the way for a while there) but Philips is claiming that this is the cheapest 60-watt equivalent LED to hit the market yet.

Philips' sub-$5 6o-watt LED bulbAnd beginning in May, when the bulb officially goes on sale at Home Depot’s brick-and-mortar stores (it’s available online now although it currently appears to be out of stock), it will be sold as a limited two-for-one “value pack” deal. Translation: you'll  get two long-lasting, high-quality LED bulbs, packaged together, for $4.97. That’s $2.50 a pop, folks. (While supplies last, of course).

A message for those who are looking to swap out old CFL (or, gasp, incandescent) bulbs completely with LEDs and are growing antsy waiting for their price to drop even further: stop holding your breath and take advantage of this.

Remember when the release of a $15 LED bulb was a pretty big (literally ... those things were clunky-city) deal?

As mentioned, the new Philips LED bulb is no-frills. I’ve had the chance to try it out and it does the trick nicely. I swapped out two older and huge CFL bulbs from IKEA with a pair of the bulbs in an overhead fixture in my living room. Sporting a shatter-proof shell and the reassuring curves of an incandescent bulb, the LED consumes a mere 8.5 watts and puts out 800 lumens of warm white light (the color temperature is 2700K). The bulb boasts a 10-year lifespan and, on average, should cost just a little over a $1 per year to use.

While this is a quality bulb, its superior budget-friendliness does bring along a caveat or two. For one, it’s not dimmable which may prove to be a deal-break for some. And other, more expensive LEDs, including Philips’ other new 60-watt equivalent bulb that retails for $10, may cast slightly warmer (read: more incandescent-esque) light.

Still, as a basic replacement bulb to use in areas where you might not be inclined to use a spiffier bulb (i.e. the storage closet under the stairs, the guest bathroom) it’s a fantastic — and fantastically affordable — option to have. 

Elaborates Philips:

While energy-efficient LEDs have become more affordable, the typical American home has more than 50 sockets, prompting consumers to use the technology in more trafficked areas of the home such as living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms.  With the introduction of the Philips LED bulb and its new price point, consumers can use LEDs in more areas of the home such as hallways, closets and laundry rooms.  

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Philips' latest bright idea is a no-frills $5 LED bulb
Talk about an Earth Day special: Philips unveils the most affordable 60-watt equivalent LED yet.