I’m weird! Okay, we already knew that, so what’s so special about today 🙂
I’m just giddy with excitement about my new LED light bulbs. As in, every time I turn on the lights I now look up at the ceiling with a big smile on my face and chuckle at all the money I’m saving and how much brighter my room is now. I’m definitely getting more and more addicted to saving money with smart technology and energy efficiency! And, the more I think about payback, energy efficiency, and my impact on this beautiful green earth, the more I want to do!
What really helped push me in the right direction this weekend was a random trip to Lowes. Figured I was starting to stink up the house by sitting inside so much, and that my buddy Caleb the super dog could use a little work out in public, so I headed to the big box home improvement store and planted myself in front of the row of light bulbs and started looking/dreaming. You see, I have wanted to buy LED lightbulbs for the entire house ever sense we built it, but was having the mad internal debate over spending $40+ per light bulb on a technology that was still in its infancy. So every week, I’d come into Lowes and think about all the energy/money I could be saving, but how ridiculous it was to spend $2,000 on lightbulbs!
That was, well, until this past Saturday, when I was scanning the gluttony of lightbulbs when my eyes fell on a group of Sylvania BR30 LED’s sitting over a $9.99 price tag. Was this a mistake? I brought one up to the front of the store to get a price check and found that they were indeed $9.99. HOLY CRAP! What a deal! And I went back and grabbed the 5 that were remaining, and found a sales guy, and can you believe it… found 33 more!!! Yeah, 38 seems like a crazy lot, and it’s no wonder my electrician thought I had the most lights he’d ever wired, but with all the cathedral ceilings and recessed lights it took a lot to cover all the space. So I spent $380 on lightbulbs this past weekend, and in the coming years expect to save thousands of dollars because of that purchase!!!
Giddy with excitement… Yes I am!
Figuring out the Payback of a Lightbulb
I know a lot of people out there are rather skeptical about how you could save so much on just a lightbulb, so let me break out a quick calculation to show you how I came up with the huge savings.
The Sylvania BR30 LED light bulbs replace a 65 W incandescent light bulb with 14 W of LED light.
The average lightbulb is run 3 hours per day or approximately 1000 hours per year.
This equates to 65 kWh of electricity for an incandescent and 14 kWh for the LED.
At $0.15 per kWh this means it cost approximately $9.75 to run the incandescent light bulb all year, and $2.10 to run the LED; a savings of $7.65.
This is further improved by the 25,000 hour life of the LED versus the 2,000 hour life of the incandescent.
Payback for my $10 expenditure = 1.3 years (not counting the probable expense of an incandescent lightbulb that burns out every 2,000 hours)
If one extrapolates the savings over the entire 25,000 hour life of the LED things get even more interesting. Realize these are just rough numbers, using somewhat unproven lifetimes for LEDs and probabilistic averages for incandescents.
But, over 25,000 hours a 65 W incandescent would use 1,625 kWh whereas a 14 W LED would use 350 kWh. At $0.15 per kilowatt hour this is a 25,000 hour (approximately 25 years) cost to run an incandescent of $243.75 versus $52.50; a difference of $191.25. If you figure in the cost of the LED lightbulb and the approximate 12.5 incandescent light bulbs needed to match its lifespan and savings equates to roughly $200 per lightbulb for 25,000 hours of operation. Yes, this is a hugely rough approximation, but close enough to get the idea, and most likely rather conservative considering the likely inflation/increased price of electricity.
Now, multiply this by 38 lightbulbs and you’ll see that I should save close to $7,000 on this purchase over the next 25 years… Yes, this is if the LED light bulbs last that long and I stay in the house for that long, yada yada. The point being is some very real and impressive savings!
Did I say I was addicted to this energy efficiency/money savings stuff?!?
What about the Light Quality?
A lot of critics say the light of an LED is harsher/bluer. What I can say about these particular LEDs, is that it’s not really harsher, but whiter and definitely brighter. I really don’t mind the difference in light/color and really like the increased output/brightness to my rooms at night. The only negative is they don’t dim as low as the previous incandescents. They still drop-down quite a ways, possibly to 20-30%, but from that point and lower they just abruptly shut off. Not a big deal, but definitely not as pleasant when my automation system automatically brightens the lights in my bedroom each morning to wake me up.
Sort of like hey Quadomated, wake up and enjoy the day! It’s time to get going!
Yeah they’re cheap to run, but also bug proof on the summer, birds don’t like them either, I have them here and on the ock too.
They need special dimmers, I have them, I just haven’t gotten around to wiring them yet! 5-6 on a circuit, you can get away with the old dimmers though.
Yeah, it takes such low current/power for the LEDs to be on that they’re only minimally dim due to the power curve of the incandescent dimmers. When I initially built, LED lighting was just way out there too expensive, but if I could have bought the lights for this price I would have installed the LED of dimmers from the start. Not worth the money/hassle of changing them out when they already dim good enough for me.
You should also check with your power company, in Utah the local utility will pay you to install these, sometimes up to $20/bulb. makes the ROI that much sweeter
Thanks for the info, our power company gave us a huge $600 rebate for the heat pump, and Efficiency Maine is why I could buy these LEDs for $20 less. These programs definitely make being green more economically feasible, and like you said bring that ROI down from several years to just over a year in the case of these bulbs.
Hi, just to let you (or others) know, there is a recall on some of these LED bulbs: http://www.whec.com/news/stories/S2969596.shtml?cat=565
“The 120-volt LED bulbs were sold under the brand names Definity, EcoSmart, Sylvania and Westinghouse. They can overheat during use and pose a fire hazard.
There have been more than 60 incidents including eight involving a fire. Consumers should stop using the bulbs and contact Light Science Group for replacement bulbs at 855-574-2533.”
Recall info specifics here: http://www.lsgc.com/recall/
Hey Cheryl, thanks for the info! You had me nervous there for a second, but all my recently installed LEDs weren’t on the dreaded recall list. Definitely something for folks to keep in mind if they have one of those brand/type of light bulbs!
My only concern is will it end up similar to the CFL I have purchased over the past 10 years. They advertised a 7 to 10 year life. As it turned out they lasted a year or less. The problem was not the bulb but rather the cheap electronics used to initially start the bulb. I would always see a brown spot on the white porcelain base.
Will the built in power supply for led lights suffer the same problem because of cheap capacitors, diodes and resisters used to light them up?
Your payback calculation would be yet more favorable to LED lamps if you included the cost to pump the heat produced by the incandescent lamps out of the house during the warm season. Perhaps not so significant to you in your northern location, but huge for us in the Southeast!