Looks like a regular old lightbulb

CreeLooks like a regular old lightbulb, but doesn’t suck energy like one.

Forget mercury-laden compact fluorescents. The efficient homes of tomorrow will be lit with LEDs.

Or so say executives at Cree, a lighting company that has started selling affordable LED lightbulbs that outwardly resemble the traditional, energy-hogging incandescent bulbs of old. The company claims that its new 60 watt-equivalent LED bulb, which costs $13 or $14 depending on which variety you buy, lasts 25 times longer and uses 84 percent less juice than does a traditional lightbulb.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Quick explainer: Light emitting diode (LED) bulbs use less energy to light a room than do compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs (not to mention incandescents) and last longer, but they are more expensive. Fluorescent lights contain mercury, a toxic heavy metal that’s not found in LEDs or outdated incandescent bulbs.

“We have the first LED bulb that really looks like an [incandescent] lightbulb, and we’ve designed it in a way that it works like a lightbulb,” Cree CEO Chuck Swoboda told Co.EXIST. “Those two things combined with the price we think can get consumers to really try LED lighting.”

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Cree is not the only company pushing the boundaries of the emerging consumer LED market. Philips says it expects its LED business to grow about 40 percent this year. From Bloomberg:

The company sees a “growth tipping point” with the debut this year of its 60-watt equivalent LED light bulb that will retail for about $10, [Philips North America CEO Greg] Sebasky said. That will help the energy-efficient technology make up about 50 percent of Philips’ lighting sales by 2015, up from 25 percent last year, he said.

“People are starting to see lighting as a durable good,” Sebasky said, taking lighting products with them when they move.