The US Department of Energy (DOE) just awarded Philips Lighting America the Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize along with a cool $10 million for the development of their new energy efficient LED light bulb that uses just 9.7 watts of electricity. The award – a.k.a. the “L Prize” – challenged manufacturers to create a 60-watt light bulb equivalent that could keep up with the demands of real-world consumers. Philips’ new bulb incarnation seems to have stood up to the DOE’s standards over 18 months of testing its performance, quality, lifetime and cost. If everyone in the US were to switch to this bulb we’d save a collective 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions, 35 terrawatt-hours of electricity and $3.9 billion each year.

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The L Prize challenges the best and brightest minds in the U.S. lighting industry to make the technological leaps forward that can greatly reduce the money we spend to light our homes and businesses each year,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Not only does the L Prize challenge innovative companies like Philips to make LED technology even more energy efficient, it also spurs the lighting industry to make LEDs affordable for American families.”

Philips’ L Prize winner is an LED light bulb which is even more efficient than those it already has on sale in retail stores. The bulb that’s available right now uses about 12.5 watts of electricity, while the L Prize winner uses just 9.7 — though they both last about 25,000 hours, which is much more than the standard incandescent’s 1,000 to 2,000 hours. Right now there is no price attached to the prize winning, ultra-efficient bulb, but 60-watt equivalent LED light bulbs currently in stores go for about $40 each. That may seem pricey, but Philips and their LED competitors have faith that within the decade, these bulbs will come down into the $10 range.

Via New York Times