LED light bulbs are all the rage these days, and for good reason. Did you know that they use 80-90 percent less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb and often last for 10-15 years under typical household usage?

For folks looking to save money on electricity bills and lower their environmental footprint, LEDs are the way to go.

Wanting to make these benefits available to seniors, North Shore Area Partners (NSAP) recently partnered with the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) to install LED light bulbs in the homes of local residents age 60 and older. Throughout several "chore days" during October, intergenerational teams of volunteers traveled to 23 homes and switched out 195 bulbs, reducing a total of 7,000 watts of electricity usage.

Beyond helping seniors save electricity, the other goal of this project was to help educate our community and encourage a dialogue about energy efficiency. When trying to reduce energy use, light bulbs are an easy place to start.

Many people currently have either traditional incandescent bulbs, which consume a lot of electricity, or fluorescent bulbs, which are more energy efficient, but have some important downsides.

First, fluorescent bulbs contain toxic mercury, meaning homeowners must bring them to a facility or collection box to be recycled. Second, they don't turn on right away and can emit an unpleasant quality of light.

In contrast, LEDs are safe to dispose of with regular household trash. They are even more energy efficient than fluorescents, turn on immediately and come in a variety of wattages, shapes and color temperatures. There are even LEDs designed to look just like incandescent bulbs.

LEDs are now the standard for high-quality, affordable, energy-efficient lighting. Improvements in recent years mean they can be swapped for incandescents and you will hardly notice. If anything, they are even brighter than incandescents.

For folks served by Cooperative Light and Power (CLP), rebates to purchase approved LED light bulbs are being offered to homeowners. CLP will reimburse you for $2 per LED bulb purchased, up to 10 bulbs.

If you are interested, call CLP at 218-834-2226 or 800-580-5881.

For folks living in Silver Bay, Minnesota Power is offering free home energy assessments through Nov. 30. During the audit, an energy professional will visit your home and help you identify conservation opportunities.

The audit lasts about 90 minutes. The professional can install free energy-saving devices such as LED light bulbs, low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, a smart power strip and refrigerator thermometers.

For more information, call 877-334-2675 or email SaveEnergy@mnpower.com.