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Energy Efficient Lighting for Any House

Energy Efficient Lighting for Any House

It really doesn’t matter how old your house is, it can likely benefit from more energy efficient lighting. There are piles of energy savings just waiting to be realized that require nothing more than a trip to the big box store.

I have a joke for you, how many contractors does it take to change a light bulb? Zero!

The point is, this is quite possibly the easiest and quickest way to cut your home’s energy use and you don’t need any help to do it! In an age where climate change is an every day topic for the talking heads it doesn’t matter which side of the issue you come down on we can all agree that saving energy and sending less money to the utility companies is a good idea, right? Well, energy efficient lighting is one of the first steps in that process.

LED Bulbs Come of Age

Ten years ago LED light bulbs were ridiculously expensive, terribly ugly, and gave off an ungodly cold light that most of the public couldn’t stand. Today those issues have largely been resolved by innovation.

Warm hues, lower prices and bulbs that look like the old incandescents we are most comfortable with means that upgrading you light bulbs to LED now makes good financial as well as aesthetic sense.

You can find a well=priced and attractive LED lightbulb for just about any application and they are available at almost any hardware store now so the excuse to stay with the old incandescents or CFLs just doesn’t exist anymore. Don’t get me wrong a well placed exposed incandescent light bulb for a decorative fixture can’t be beat, but any bulb that isn’t visible deserves to be an energy saver rather than energy hog.

Calculating the Savings

I’ll use my own house as an example. I have 44 light bulbs in my house (yes I actually counted them). They are a variety of bulbs ranging from 60 watts for general lighting to 25 watts for the chandelier that all told add up to 1,385 watts if I turn everything on with incandescent bulbs.

When I looked at the wattage requirements for replacement LED bulbs I found that most consumed only 13-16% of their incandescent cousins which even on the high side would lower my energy requirements for lighting to 222 watts in its full glory.

How much does a watt hour cost? Utility providers usually charge by the kilowatt hour and in my area in Orlando, FL that cost is about $7 per kWh which equates to $.007 per Wh. According the EnergyStar.com lighting accounts for around 12% of the average energy bill which for me around $200. That means lighting’s share of that is around $24 a month. Let’s cut that down to 16% since we are changing everything to LED which is $3.84 per month. Not bad about $20 buck a month right?

You might be thinking that is hardly worth it and you’d be right. There is another savings you aren’t taking into consideration that is especially important for warmer climates. LED bulbs generate far less heat than incandescents or CFLs so now I’ve got a lower cooling load on my air conditioner which leads to more savings.

The Florida Energy Council says that about 30% of a utility bill is used for cooling in my state and if I can generate less heat from my light bulbs lets take a guess that I can save around 4% a month on cooling costs which is another $2.40.

There’s a lot of ways to calculate it and if you want there is even an easy to use calculator so you can see exactly what your savings are and what your ROI will be. Click the link below to calculate your savings!

Lighting Energy Cost Calculator

The Bigger Savings

It’s not just about having better bulbs, but rather the big savings comes from having better habits. Yes, that means you have to change which is harder than asking others to change. Before you sponsor a piece of legislation to force us all to be more “green” focus first on the plank in your own eye before you take the spec out of your bother’s eye.

What kind of savings could you realize if you turned the lights off every time you left a room, or if you didn’t leave that porch light on all night? What if you took a couple bulbs of those multi light fixtures or used lower wattage bulbs yet still?

The point is don’t get caught up in the savings that technology alone provides because the place where your biggest gains can be are usually where the rubber meets the road, your own behaviors. But then that’s always the truth, isn’t it?

What have you done to save energy costs and lessen your footprint on this world? Have you thought about installing more energy efficient lighting? I’m curious to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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5 thoughts on “Energy Efficient Lighting for Any House

  1. Wow.. I looked it up and you are correct Zara. LED light emits more blue light which has a greater impact on our circadian rhythm. Important information to know so you can offset the effects. Perhaps have a few fixtures with incandescent that you use in the evening instead of the LED’s

  2. Scott, you must have an error in your calculations. My local rate is about 11 cents per kWh. Are you sure your rate isn’t 7 cents rather than 7 dollars?

    That said, the glut of 2,700K LED bulbs has been fantastic. They’re so cheap now it’s crazy not to replace all the energy hungry incandescents with LEDs. Especially when you also save on cooling costs to offset the waste heat from the old bulbs.

    There’s only one area where I still might consider an incandescent: dimmable fixtures. A lot of LED bulbs are now compatible with dimmers, but they don’t change color temp in the same way. An incandescent will go from white to yellow to orange as it dims, whereas an LED will stay the same color as it dims. While there are some LEDs that mimic the color temp change, I haven’t found any that fit in my candelabra bases and are suitable for exposed installation.

  3. For me, the debate between incandescent bulbs and anything else was settled when the first CFL’s came out. Cost of the bulb was not an issue nor the energy efficiency , what decided it for me was the lifetime of the CFL bulb. Incandescents had a lifetime between seconds and years and it always seemed that the hardest bulb to access was the one that died the most often. The CFL’s lasted around 3-7 years. When LED’s came on the scene, I switched again also for the same reason as LED’s can last decades. Now I won’t buy anything but the LED bulbs or lamps that have LED’s in them.

    If you don’t want the mundane selections at the big box stores, here are a couple of ones with great design ideas:

  4. I’m all for energy efficiency. However as someone that suffers from onset insomnia, and has read studies about different factors affecting the condition, I can tell you the wavelength of LED lighting is disastrous for insomnia. So until they come up with something with a different wavelength, I need to be strategic with placement and usage of LED bulbs.

    1. Zara, LEDs can be bought that match the wavelength of incandescent lights. Look for lights that are 2700 to 3000 Kelvins. Kelvins determine the warmth of LEDs, and the lower the number, the warmer they are. They go from 2700 which is the most yellow to 6500 which is the most blue. I have problems with Insomnia also, and I’ve found as long as I buy LEDs that are between 2700 – 3000 Kelvins, they don’t affect my sleep. Additionally, I’m an interior designer, and that’s the range I specify for all the homes I design because you truly cannot tell the difference between LEDs in that range and Incandescent lights. I’ve even had clients who have said they didn’t want LEDs because they were too artificial-looking change their minds once they saw the 2700-3000 Kelvin LED lights installed. One even thanked me for not using LEDs, when all the lights I had installed were LEDs.

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