We all want to save energy and spend less money. In the home, this can mean using smart technology and more energy efficient products such as LED lighting.
Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are currently one of the most energy efficient lighting technologies and are growing in popularity due to their promise to save money, energy and the environment. But how much can you save? And is it really worth switching?
A Brief History of Light Bulbs
Over the past ninety years, we have become accustomed to light bulbs that last about 1,000 hours before they need to be replaced. This is not so much due to technological limitations, but because of the cartel that formed when industry leaders realized that eternal light bulbs would soon put them out of business.
Light bulbs have fallen in quality and have not been able to improve over the intervening decades. The lifespan of incandescent light bulbs today is about the same as it was in the 1920s, and significantly less than older light bulbs.
The energy crisis of the 1970s and the environmental movement encouraged the development of more energy efficient technologies. But it’s only in recent years that consumers have finally begun to reap the benefits.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) first appeared in stores in the mid-1990s as a low-energy alternative to incandescent lamps.
Despite significant energy savings, CFLs have always been unpopular.
They are usually considered ugly.
The quality of the light is drastic.
Turn-on delay worsens as bulbs age.
They contain mercury, so they are toxic if broken and must be disposed of carefully.
Most businesses are phasing out CFLs as LED lighting becomes better and cheaper. make them meaningless.
LED fixtures have been around for a few years, but until recently they were very expensive and produced a cold light that many did not find acceptable. In recent years, the cost has decreased exponentially and continues to fall, while the quality of light has also improved.
LEDs are now available in a full range of colors. For most people, the quality of light from a good LED bulb is currently indistinguishable from that of an incandescent bulb.
How much can you save?
LED bulbs are still more expensive than their incandescent counterparts, but they are much cheaper to run. How much are we talking about?
There are significant differences in price and performance across all lamp types, but below are typical numbers:
A 100-watt incandescent bulb costs about $0.75, costs 1.0 centners an hour, and lasts about 1,000 hours.
A 23W CFL bulb produces about the same amount of light, but costs about $3, costs 0.23 centners an hour, and lasts 8,000 hours.
A 14-watt LED bulb costs $6, costs 0.14 centners an hour, and lasts 25,000 hours.
Although the cost of an LED lamp is about eight times more, it lasts 20 to 25 times longer, and the lower running costs increase over time.
Using the numbers above, over the lifetime of one LED bulb, you will spend $8 on bulbs and $50 on electricity. If you were to stick with incandescent bulbs, you’d be spending $18.75 on light bulbs and a whopping $300 on electricity. CFLs would cost you $9 in bulbs and $75 in electricity.
$300 over 25 years or so may not sound like a huge savings, but consider that a modest three-bedroom home might have ten ceiling lights and maybe six more floor and table lamps. Now you’re talking about $4,800 savings, or about $200 a year. This is a significant part of your energy bill. Also, think about how much time you’ll save and what inconvenience you’ll avoid by not changing your light bulb every few weeks.
If you have a large house or use a lot of LED lighting, the savings will of course be proportionately greater.
The electricity costs used in the above calculations are based on a US average of $0.10 per kWh. In many countries, electricity is much more expensive, so the savings will be even greater.
Additional savings are possible in warm climates. LEDs emit very little heat compared to incandescent bulbs, so they reduce the need for air conditioning. In cooler climates, you may spend a little more on heating, but there is still a net benefit.
Only if you are in a climate where you need heating all year round and your heating is electric, you will not be able to save on energy by switching to LEDs. Even then, you will still save on the cost of light bulbs.
Is switching to LED lighting worth it?
Deciding whether or not to switch to LEDs is really simple. As your incandescent and incandescent light bulbs fail, you should replace them with LED equivalents.
In fact, even if you just went out and bought an incandescent bulb, you will still save money if you replace it with an LED light. For a light bulb that is used three hours a day, the break-even point is less than a month. For lamps that are used less often, you can let them die a natural death, but LEDs should be their replacement. There is no reason to ever buy an incandescent or CFL again.
If you have CFLs, you probably don’t want to throw them away. Let them reach the end of their lives and then replace them with LED bulbs. When it comes time to dispose of them, be sure to do so safely. They contain small amounts of mercury, so you may need to take them to a recycling center.
If you are somehow still not sure, it is worth noting that the use of LEDs does not only lead to cost savings. Environmental impact. essential.
The US Department of Energy estimated that LEDs saved approximately 41 billion kWh in 2014, more than the full capacity of a typical nuclear power plant. If all lighting switched to LED, the savings would be more than thirty times that amount. Research also shows that LED lamps have a much lower overall environmental impact than incandescent or CFL lamps.
Because they use less power and generate very little heat, LED bulbs are also safer. Incandescent bulbs can burn hard enough to start a fire under certain conditions, while LED bulbs usually stay cold enough to be touched.
LED lamps also open up a whole new world of lighting possibilities. Smart bulbs can be controlled remotely using your phone or devices like the Amazon Echo and can be customized to any level and color. Philips Hue are market leaders, but there are many alternatives.
You can even get creative with LEDs and go beyond a simple lamp as your home lighting.
In any case, LED lighting will soon become the only option as incandescent and CFL bulbs are phased out. Very few manufacturers are still making the products and most countries have already begun the process of completely banning them. There was some resistance to this as there are always forced changes but we are past the point where it makes sense to keep buying incandescent or CFLs. The future is bright. The future is LED.
Have you completely switched to LEDs yet?Do you love tungsten as some music lovers do for vinyl?Or are you completely up to date with new technologies?Please let us know in the comments.