How to Save on Your Monthly Electric Bill By Installing Energy Efficient Lighting

How to Save on Your Monthly Electric Bill By Installing Energy Efficient Lighting

Installing energy efficient lighting is one of the easiest ways to reduce your monthly electric bill. By replacing outdated incandescent and halogen bulbs with LEDs and CFLs, you can literally save hundreds of dollars per year without sacrificing light quality. In this comprehensive guide, I will walk you through everything you need to know about making the switch, from understanding lighting technology, calculating energy savings, and finding rebates, to choosing the right bulbs and making the installations. With some simple upgrades around the house, you'll be well on your way to lower electric bills and a reduced carbon footprint.

Understanding Lighting Technology

Incandescent vs. CFL vs. LED

The first step is understanding the key differences between traditional incandescent bulbs, CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and LEDs (light emitting diodes).

Incandescent bulbs are the traditional bulb that has been used for over 100 years. They are inexpensive to buy, but extremely inefficient, converting only about 10% of energy consumed into light. The other 90% is given off as heat. They also have a short lifespan of only 1,000 hours.

CFLs represent the first wave of energy efficient bulbs. They use 70% less energy than incandescents and can last 6,000-15,000 hours. However, they contain mercury and take time to warm up to full brightness. Most people find the light harsher as well.

LED bulbs are the latest lighting technology. They use a semiconductor to produce light, allowing them to convert over 80% of energy into light vs heat. LEDs last up to 25,000 hours and contain no mercury. The light quality is also superior, with LEDs replicating the soft, natural light of an incandescent.

Lumens vs. Watts

When comparing bulbs, it's important to look at lumens, not watts. Lumens measure the actual light output, while watts simply reflect energy consumed. A traditional 60W bulb produces 800 lumens. So look for the equivalent lumen output, not the old wattage equivalent. For example, an 8W LED can produce the same 800 lumens as the 60W incandescent.

Calculating Energy and Cost Savings

To determine actual energy savings, you need to calculate the wattage difference between your existing bulbs and new, energy efficient bulbs.

Let's compare a 60W incandescent to a 8W LED with the same 800 lumen output.

Over a 15 year lifespan, the accumulated savings of the LED vs incandescent could be over $1,000. The savings might be even higher when switching from halogen bulbs.

So while LEDs have a higher upfront cost, they pay for themselves many times over during their long lifespan.

Finding Rebates and Incentives

Many utility companies and municipalities offer rebates and incentives to encourage homeowners and businesses to upgrade to energy efficient lighting. Be sure to check with your electric provider about available discounts, credits, or rebates to help offset the cost of new bulbs.

For example, LED bulb rebates can range from $1 to $10 per bulb. Some utilities even offer free or discounted bulbs through energy efficiency programs. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency is a great resource to search for incentives in your state.

Choosing the Right Bulbs

When shopping for LEDs and CFLs, here are the key factors to consider:

I would also recommend sticking with reputable, well-known brands such as Philips, GE or Cree for best performance. Check bulb packaging and manufacturer ratings to confirm expected hour lifespan as well.

Determining Where to Install New Bulbs

To maximize savings, determine which fixtures currently use bulbs that are on the most each day. Some common areas to target first:

Also make sure to install specialty bulbs in the appropriate fixtures. Use dimmable or 3-way compatible bulbs where needed. Choose bulbs marked safe for enclosed fixtures. Install colored or decorative bulbs in accent lighting if preferred.

Making the Switch and Installations

Installing the new energy efficient bulbs is a simple process:

  1. Turn off power to the fixture at the switch or breaker and allow bulb/fixture to cool.
  2. Remove old bulb by unscrewing.
  3. Screw in new LED or CFL bulb until snug.
  4. Turn power back on and test new bulb.

That's it! Just be sure to handle CFLs carefully and recycle properly when they burn out. With LEDs there's no mercury to worry about.

Also, many fixtures designed for incandescent bulbs work as-is with CFLs and LEDs. But for certain recessed, enclosed or dimmable fixtures, you may need LED-friendly retrofit kits for optimal light quality and dimming functionality. Check manufacturer recommendations if unsure.

Start Saving Today

Switching to energy efficient lighting is a simple upgrade that can reduce your electric bill by hundreds of dollars per year. By understanding the technology, calculating savings, finding rebates, choosing quality bulbs, and installing them in high usage fixtures, you can easily achieve a fast payback on your lighting investment. Do your lights and wallet a favor by making the change today!