The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has published a report comparing the energy consumed over the entire life cycle for LED lamps, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and incandescent lamps. "Review of the Life-Cycle Energy Consumption of Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent, and LED Lamps" is based on existing life-cycle assessment literature of lighting products.

The report is the first installment of a larger DOE project to assess the life-cycle environmental and resource costs in the manufacturing, transport, use, and disposal of LED lighting products in relation to comparable traditional lighting technologies.

Among this report's key findings:

  • The average life-cycle energy consumption of LED lamps and CFLs is similar, and is about one-fourth the consumption of incandescent lamps. But if LED lamps meet their performance targets by 2015, their life-cycle energy use is expected to decrease by approximately one-half.
  • The “use” stage of all three types of lamps represents the most energy-intensive life-cycle stage, accounting for 90% of total life-cycle energy, on average.
  • Most of the uncertainty in life-cycle energy consumption of an LED lamp centers on the manufacturing of the LED package, which is estimated at anywhere from 0.1% to 27% of life-cycle energy use, with an average of 7%.
To download a PDF of the report, go to