30 Apr Will Upgrading to CFL or LED Light Bulbs Really Save You Cash? We Do the Math
For the past 10 years, there has been a huge push to transition home lighting from incandescent bulbs to CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) because they are more efficient and will use less electricity. Some industry analysts have even asserted that if everyone in the United States replaced their incandescent bulbs with CFLs that all of the coal burning power plants in the country could be shut down. So what does this mean to you? It should mean significant energy savings. Let’s put that to the test.
For our comparison we will use a standard cost of 20 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity (just below the average in the Bay Area). We will be comparing a standard 60 watt incandescent with the equivalent 13 watt CFL and 9.5 watt LED.
The initial cost of a single incandescent bulb is about 40 cents. A CFL costs around $1.50. And the LED runs about $10.
An incandescent bulb lasts about 1,000 hours. A CFL runs for around 8,000 hours. And an LED runs for around 30,000 hours.
To calculate the cost to run a bulb for one hour, this is the formula we use – Bulb wattage ÷ 1000 = kilowatts (kW) x $0.20.
So, the cost to run an incandescent bulb for one hour is about 1.20 cents. The CFL costs about 0.26 cents. And the LED costs 0.19 cents per hour.
Over the lifetime of a single incandescent bulb, it will cost $12 in electricity. One CFL bulb will cost $20.80 over its lifetime. And one LED will cost $57 over its lifetime.
Now let’s compare the cost of each bulb over the 30,000 hour life time of the LED bulb. You’ll need to purchase 30 incandescent bulbs for every LED bulb you would purchase. With each bulb costing 40 cents and the electricity costing $12 – that makes the total cost of one bulb $12.40. Multiply that by 30 and you’ll see the incandescent would cost you $372, or $305 more than the total $67 cost of a single LED.
You’ll only need to purchase 4 CFL bulbs to match the life of a single LED. With a cost of only $1.20 per bulb, this is $4.80. Add this to the $78 run cost for 30,000 hours and the CFL bulbs come in at $82.80, or only $15.80 more than the LED.
Remember – this is the potential savings for a single bulb over a 30,000 hour period. The typical 2,000 sq. ft. home has 50+ bulbs. So, if you were to change out every bulb in your home with a CFL or LED, the savings could be well over $10,000, not to mention not having to constantly run out to purchase and change out bulbs.
Check out this video to see an interesting comparison in the lighting quality of CFLs vs. LEDs.