Bright Idea

Bright Idea

In honor of Thanksgiving being this week, here’s a creative way to cook your turkey:

Okay, so I really wanted to talk about light bulbs.

I am a firm believer in doing things that are “green.” However, I am also a believer that those things should save me some green as well. As astute readers of our blog may have noticed, we bought an old house a few months ago. In an ongoing series of blog posts I’m going to try to document the things we are doing to our humble abode to make it more energy efficient. I’ll be covering things both large and small, starting with small because that’s what we can afford right now.

So, back to light bulbs.

When we moved in one of the first things we bought at Lowe’s was a contractor pack of those squiggly compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and replaced nearly all of the light bulbs in the house. I left a few of the old incandescent bulbs in fixtures with dimmers since they would require special “dimmable” CFL bulbs and from what I understand don’t really dim well anyway. I know all of those bulbs say they will save some ridiculous amount of money right on the box, but I couldn’t help but to wonder how long it would take for me to see all those savings.

Light Bulb Graveyard

Fortunately for me I have access to some pretty sophisticated home energy simulation software. So I “plugged in” our house and changed out the light bulbs in the computer. This is what I got:

Utility bills before and after changing out the lights in my house to CFLs

That’s almost $100 in energy savings per year. Considering I spent maybe $40-50 on replacing the bulbs, that’s about a six month payback. So, this has already paid for itself. My next plan is to swap out those last few incandescent bulbs with LEDs which can be dimmed and last 5x longer than CFLs and use even less energy.

If that doesn’t get you all excited about light bulbs, I don’t know what will. Until next time.

More Exciting Light Bulb Links


7 thoughts on “Bright Idea

  1. Good job! I need to look into more energy efficient fan and chandelier light bulbs, we go through so many of those darn things (just about every room in our house has them). I like your little simulation, I might be more apt to start applying myself more if I could see the numbers. According to my shampoo bottle, I can save $150 a year if I turn off the water while I shampoo. I don’t buy it, but maybe when I see your cost analysis I’ll convert!

    1. There’s quite a few options with LED bulbs in the smaller sizes like for your chandeliers and fans. The prices are coming down all the time too. From what I’ve heard, each LED bulb last 25x longer than an incandescent. That’ll keep you from replacing them for a while.

      I’ll have to look into the savings from shorter showers. Heating water can be a big portion of energy costs, so I’d imagine there are some significant savings to be had there as well. I’ll keep you posted.

  2. perfect timing, I need to get some new light bulbs! Although I might not go with energy savers quite yet, because we probably won’t be in here much longer, but who knows. thanks for the info šŸ™‚

  3. How do you feel about gas appliances? They are better, right? But they CREEP me out! And I’ve always remembered Barney (yes, Barney the purple dino) reminding us to turn the water off when we brush our teeth. Seriously, thanks for the info. I know I can do better… I still can’t believe I buy water….

    1. Gas appliances generally save money because the cost of electricity is about 4x the cost of gas right now (at least at my house). Safety is always a concern. Electricity has it’s issues as well. The best thing you can do to make sure you’re safe with gas appliances is to get carbon monoxide alarms for your house. They’re relatively inexpensive, about $20-30, and are even required in most building codes now.

  4. Gas appliances due run a small risk, but they are more efficient than the technology most of us have available to us under our present circumstances. Glenna and I live in an environment that does not allow us to ignore heating issues. Although gas flames do no need electricity to ignite and create heat, electricity is needed to distribute the heat by way of a fan. My question to the void is what would be some of the ways to compensate in the event electricity might be extracted from the equation, due to some shortage? Wood burning stoves or fireplaces create too many other problems and seem to be a source of terrible outcomes in our environment as we are always watching firetrucks head off to the rescue. I have considered a few alternatives, but they are expensive and untested. Thanks for any help in this matter.

  5. The squiggly bulbs have definitely been improving. I had one in my room in laketown and it had 3 phases of turning on: 1. really dim, almost dark, 2. it suddenly started draining power and made my radio volume go to zero, 3. the light stabilized but made my radio turn up to full volume (never touched the radio). That was 10 years ago and hopefully consumer reports is right that they turn on about the same as regular bulbs.

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