The discussion about LEDs as an energy and environmental cure-all has led to some skepticism about whether LEDs are truly big energy-savers and green when one considers the total lifecycle energy and environmental cost of the product, including manufacturing and transportation. To its credit, DOE took this seriously enough to commission a study. The first report, dealing with lifecycle energy consumption for replacement lamps, was recently published: Review of the Life-Cycle Energy Consumption of Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent, and LED Lamps. The second report will address luminaires as well, and also incorporate environmental impacts.

The first report, based on existing lifecycle assessment literature of lighting products, shows that as one might expect, most energy for a lamp is consumed during its actual use. DOE estimates that about 90% of total lifecycle energy consumption occurs during use, while 7-9% occurs during manufacturing and less than 1% during transportation. The study also found that, based on DOE’s assumption that the average LED lamp provides service life equivalent to about 22 incandescent lamps, the average LED lamp consumes 75% less energy than the average incandescent lamp. Finally, based on DOE’s assumption that the average LED lamp’s service life is equivalent to three compact fluorescent lamps, the average lifecycle energy consumption of LED lamps is about the same as that for compact fluorescent.

Click here to download a PDF of the report.