Quality Information for Energy Conservation

What's the big deal about LED bulbs?

Light bulbs.  We all use them, we all know what they look like (mostly) but above all we all know which ones we're supposed to use.  

Right? 

A quick online search of "which bulb should I use?" will turn out pages after pages of infographics and articles and comparison charts... in short, a lot of information.  But it still might not answer your question.  This is the internet after all. 

So where does that leave you?  What's a person to do?  Here's one person's story of bulb research and switching, and what they found out the (not so) easy way. 

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Let me start by saying that our house is one that recycles a lot, has a compost pile out back and turns off electronics when we go on vacation.  That's about where the "energy conservation" ended though.  We weren't great about turning off lights, and we left stuff plugged in a lot.  We also had a lot of fixtures in the house with incandescent bulbs in them.  

So when I got a new job and things got a little easier, we decided (my boyfriend and I) to go LED.  We'd heard a lot about it, and where I'm super frugal, he's super "what's the most affordable, but the best".  So from his perspective going LED was going to cost hundreds of dollars.  I was sure we could do it for less.  But he's a scientist and I'm an artist, so there was a lot to take into consideration - he wanted fantastic lights, I wanted color temperatures that wouldn't mess with my color matching. And in the end we both got what we wanted. 

A while ago, before I moved, he'd gone ahead and replaced the bulbs in the 3 bedrooms with CFL bulbs.   So when we decided to start upgrading bulbs, the first place we looked was the Mass Save program.  They came out and did an assessment on our house, and replaced all the incandescent bulbs with CFLs.  The problem there was that the CFL bulbs didn't dim... and didn't actually work in dimmable fixtures.  Suddenly we had a light show that was giving us headaches.  So those came out, the old bulbs went back in and we decided it was time to seriously look at LED. 

The two inefficiency culprits were the den and the dining room.  With 7 dimmable bulbs in each room, that was a lot of LED's to buy.  He decided to redo the den's bulbs when 3 of the halogens we had in there died.  (They'd been doing that a lot. We were worried.) So he went to the store and brought home 7 crazy efficient, totally space age looking fancy shiny (in really hard to open packaging) LED bulbs.  And they were perfectly white and bright!  Oh so bright!  And (thankfully) dimmable.  So down went the dimmer and when all was said and done he'd spent a lot of money and we had an amazingly lit den.  We now hold my knitting circle night in that room because the light is so wonderful. We waited on doing the dining room, mostly because of cost - he'd shelled out a lot of money for those bulbs, and dishing out funds like that isn't really on our plan right now.  We have other goals.  But energy efficient lighting was important to us - we'd been reading the articles and infographics, we'd seen the comparison videos and it seemed like the best next step in making our house more efficient.  

So after a little digging around, and some review reading, and a little more digging around, I found a source for bulbs that were a better color temperature than the incandescent (but still not as white as the ones in the den) and the right size and shape for the fixture in the dining room - and we took the plunge at $7 a bulb.  Yes - you read that right.  $7 a bulb.  The ones in the den were $15 a bulb.  Quite a difference!! And so was the light.  

You can tell the difference between a $7 LED bulb and a $15 LED bulb... the light is a little different, and they look different.  But where the perfect white is lovely in the den (and making us rethink the paint color, but that's a different story) we wanted something warmer in the dining room, yet still close enough to white to please the eye - and that's just what we got, and in a dimmable bulb.  My boyfriend was happy, and surprised - he doesn't regret buying the bulbs in the den, but he's happy we could go efficient for less.  And he really does like the way the bulbs look - where the bulbs in the den are super futuristic and a single direction, the bulbs in the dining room look like regular frosted light bulbs and are omni-directional.  We have a traditional dining room, and didn't want a "space age" looking bulb.  

Over the last few months we've seen a fairly significant drop in our energy bill - just from light bulbs! That's been great, and if the trend continues we'll have recouped the cost of all the bulbs in the next 2 months.  Not bad, really... we invested around $160 in LED bulbs and we've seen a lot of those savings already.  That makes the initial cost a little less stinging.  

What's the practical up upshot of all this?  It's simple really... take as long as you need to, but upgrade your bulbs.  Our rooms are cooler now that we're not generating excess heat from our lighting, the light is better and less straining on our eyes, it's a better color of light so all our artwork and our TV look right and we're saving money monthly on our electric bill.  The saving money is the big one!  It's great to see that number going down, even in the summer with the AC running!   Seeing a little drop has also pushed us to take other energy saving measures, like switching multiple electronics over to a power strip so we can turn them off completely.  We just started that, moving the scanner and printer in my office to a power strip that cuts power to the whole strip when my computer turns off, and can't wait to see how much lower we can get that bill.  Who doesn't want lower bills?  (and now everything powers down and powers up together, meaning I only have to worry about remembering to turn off my computer instead of my whole office - so much nicer)

Do yourself a favor, and upgrade your bulbs! 

Comments

Thank you for sharing information

Thank you for sharing information on light bulbs. Your blog is really helpful and if I need to go buy light bulb anytime soon, I will surely follow the instructions.

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