LEDs Save Energy and Money


Most drivers of electric vehicles are aware of the financial rewards of energy efficiency. Save energy, save money. This is the first in a series of articles about home energy efficiency strategies that, when used in conjunction with electric vehicles and solar, can dramatically reduce your energy use and increase your monthly savings. The effects can be synergistic. For example, lower total energy use means a potentially smaller investment in solar to meet your monthly power budget, or avoiding a panel upgrade if you have an older house and are near the total capacity of the panel when you install your EV charge station. 


According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), lighting averages 14% of a home's energy. Upgrading your bulbs to more efficient ones will translate into cost savings on your energy bills. Over the life of the new "lifetime" LED bulbs, the savings can be in the thousands of dollars. 

Electricity consumption and costs varies widely by region but for this example, we'll use a simplified average provided by the EIA, the federal agency charged with providing independent statistics and analysis of US energy use. The average monthly electricity bill is $107. In some regions, it’s nearly double that. 

The average household lighting expense, 14% of $107, is $15/mo. An LED bulb uses only 15% of the energy that an incandescent does, so the monthly savings in our example is $12.75. Over the 20 year life of the bulbs, the total electricity cost savings is $3,060, $153 per year. The savings are even greater when you consider the cost of the bulbs. Over that 20 year span, you would need 42 times the number of throw-away incandescent bulbs. When comparing a $1.25 incandescent to a $10 LED, that’s another $42.50 per bulb savings. Multiply by the number of bulbs in your house and it’s probably well over $1,000 in additional savings. 

Most modern LED lamps look like ordinary light bulbs. The new bulbs give off a pleasing light and are dimmable using most common dimmers. Newer LEDs are available in several "color temperatures" of light (soft white, daylight white) and don’t generate excess heat. Many of today’s LED lamps now cost less then $10. Depending on local rebates, they may cost even less than $10 so you can recoup your investment more quickly.

Home improvement chains such as Home Depot and Lowe’s carry a wide variety of LED lamps, as do mainstream retailers including Target and Walmart. Generally, each chain carries specific brands of lamps. A huge variety of LED bulbs are available on-line. You’ll see LED bulb offerings from familiar brands such as GE, Philips and Sylvania, but also from less well known but high quality manufacturers like Cree and TCP. Some large chains, like Target, are selling their own branded bulbs, which are usually just “private-labeled” bulbs from a major manufacturer.

What to choose when faced with an aisle of these new energy- and money-saving LED lamps? This reviewer's top picks are the Cree 2700k A19 4Flow and the Philips model 424382. They have beautiful, bright, flicker-free light, are dimmable and are easy on both the eyes and the wallet. The packaging and labeling of products from Cree and Philips makes it easy to know what you’re buying if you just want to replace a good old 60-watt, soft white incandescent light bulb.

LED lamps come in a variety of "wattage-equivalents" and bulb types for different applications, so you can easily upgrade all of those energy-hungry, money-wasting, heat-generating, obsolete light bulbs in your home to beautiful, energy-saving, money-saving LED light. The turtles will thank you.

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