By Patrick Walters Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — Two years after it began phasing out incandescent bulbs, Swedish retailer Ikea announced Monday it is taking another step and planning to sell only energy-efficient LED lighting by 2016.
Ikea believes the shift to the longer-lasting bulbs will help set an environmentally friendly example in the industry and also save the company about $10 million to $20 million a year, or 10 percent, in lighting costs at its 300 stores around the globe, said Steve Howard, the company’s chief sustainability officer.
“You can have kids, they can grow up and go to college and you can have the same light,” Howard said of LED bulbs, which can last about 20 years — longer than incandescent or halogen bulbs. “There’s money to make in your own ceiling.”
Ikea, which has 38 stores in the U.S., including one in Renton, announced in 2010 that it planned to have all incandescent bulbs out of its stores by 2011. The company then shifted toward only selling more efficient options including compact fluorescent bulbs, LED and halogen lamps.
While the purchase price for LED bulbs remains more than the other options, LEDs are more efficient and give off better light, Howard said. LEDs still cost several times more than other bulbs.
“We think that this can drive market acceptance in a good way,” he said of the shift by the company, which has its U.S. headquarters in Plymouth Meeting, a suburb of Philadelphia.
Other large retailers said that, while they are experimenting with shifting to LED lighting in stores, they are still selling all types of bulbs for now.
Jean Niemi, a spokeswoman for Home Depot Inc., said the company switched in-store fixtures to LED lighting several years ago. But, due to customer demand, they plan to continue selling all different types of bulbs.
“LEDs are still pretty expensive,” Niemi said.
At Wal-Mart Stores Inc. , the company is putting LED lightings in all new store parking lights and experimenting with it inside stores Wichita, Kansas, and Euclid, Ohio, spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said. The company is also switching to LED for lighting in stores overseas. But on the shelves, Wal-Mart intends to keep selling all different kinds of lighting to give customers the options they want.
“It’s the customer’s choice,” Buchanan said.
At IKEA, the all-LED shift will take place by a combination of taking the other items off the shelves and just letting them sell out, Howard said, and the company is hoping to set an example in the industry.
“This is sort of a call to action,” he said.