Window Shopping: LED bulbs don't have to be all function over form

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It's time to get familiar with light emitting diodes (LEDs) because, according to the Energy Saving Trust, LED technology is going to dominate the lights we use at home by 2015.Following a field trial of the technology at the end of last year, James Russill, EST's technical development manager, said: "LED is one of those rare technologies that performs better than the lighting system it is replacing but at the same time uses less energy."

Tiny, flexible, eco-friendly and durable, LEDs are a very different proposition to the bulbs we've used in the past. They're incredibly long-lasting, with a lifetime of up to 50,000 hours (compared to 1,000 hours for a traditional bulb). That's the equivalent of running a light three hours a day, 365 days a year for 45 years. And they're seriously energy efficient, using 85 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs.

"You can replace a 20-watt standard bulb with a 1 watt LED bulb and still produce a warm, dimmable light," says Sally Storey, design director of John Cullen,

Designers are beginning to realise the potential of LED technology. At Ikea, for example, designer Sigga Heimis was inspired by their diminutive size. The result is the ONSJÖ lamp, where sparkling diodes sit inside a metal tube that has been formed into the shape of a flower.

The strength of the light they produce also makes LEDs ideal for task lighting such as desk or bedside lamps. "They make perfect bedside reading lights as they provide a narrow beam of focused light that won't disturb your partner," says Storey.

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