You’re probably already replaced most of your home lighting with energy-efficient CFL bulbs. If so, great. CFLs last longer, use less energy, and help save you money.
But they’re also what you might call a transitional technology. While they are a heck of a lot better than traditional lightbulbs, CFLs pale in comparison with what is coming next.
The first new lighting tech we’ll see is already on the market to a limited degree: LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes. These are semiconductor circuits that light up when just a tiny amount of electricity is passed through them. They are even more efficient than CFL bulbs, and can last for thousands of hours. While still in development, you can already buy all kinds of devices with LED lights, including flashlights and Christmas lights. They’re also starting to find their way into home and business lighting solutions, although we’re probably still a few years away from mass production.
But even LEDs aren’t the last word in lighting. Organic LEDs (OLEDs) will be even better, and may actually eliminate the need for separate lighting devices. OLEDs are organic polymers that light up. In theory, they can be formed into just about anything. So eventually, instead of using a reading a lamp, you can have your walls coated with OLEDs and turn them on.
Both LEDs and OLEDs are still young technologies, but they’re developing rapidly. Does that mean, though, that you should skip any further transitions to CFL bulbs? Heck, no. Keep using them and keep embracing them. CFLs are also being improved with each generation (the latest bulbs already contain less mercury than the first generations), and no matter what, they save a lot of energy compared to regular, Edison-era bulbs.
But the future is coming. And it’s going to be bright.