We’re all looking for ways to reduce our utility bills, but it can sometimes seem daunting. How many have the extra money to install solar or a new air conditioning unit? Not many. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the thought of needing to make big-ticket changes to your house to save money, but there are simpler, less expensive changes you can make to save real cash each month. The easiest, least expensive change is in your home lighting.
According to an article in The Current, an industry trade magazine produced by HD Supply Power Solutions, your home lighting can impact your heating and, especially, your cooling dollars. In your home, a standard incandescent light bulb can give off up to 85 BTUs an hour; newer compact fluorescent bulbs send out 30 BTUs an hour. Compare that to newer LED lighting – the typical LED bulb gives off a tiny 3.4 BTUs an hour. What does that mean in real life? The regular light bulbs in your lamps and overhead lighting fixtures are adding to the amount of heat your AC is fighting against during the summer.
There are pros and cons to changing to either LED or the compact fluorescent bulbs. The biggest problem is with the compact fluorescents; they have a shorter lifespan than LEDs, give off more heat than LEDs and contain hazardous chemicals, so they cannot be thrown away in the regular trash.
LED lighting is definitely more efficient and do not rely on chemicals to produce light. They can be programmed to turn on and off, to change color and hue at various times from your smartphone or computer, but they are a bit more expensive to buy; the cost of the bulbs has come down as more research has been done to develop less expensive ways of manufacture. In the past, LED light was a harsh blue-white color, but more modern bulbs are softer.
What are the results of changing out your lighting?
- LED inserts into existing fixtures use less than half the electricity of traditional lighting
- LED lighting produces 95-percent less heat than traditional lighting, reducing the amount of energy needed to run your existing heating/cooling system
- Existing heating/cooling systems run more efficiently and will last longer before needing to be replaced
- The cost of adding LED inserts to existing fixtures throughout your home will produce a bigger return over the typical 12-year lift of an LED bulb than upgrading your existing heating/cooling system, not only in the cost of the switch-out but also the long-term reduced energy costs
Even your outdoor lighting can be switched to LED, lowering the cost of outside fixtures by as much as 85-percent. There is no question; LED lighting is the way to go to improve your energy cost with the biggest return.
The best way to start is by using LED bulbs that screw into your existing lamps; you may even have some LED lighting in your home already, if you have flameless candles. LED bulbs come in different measurements than regular bulbs; LED is measured in lumens (the amount of light actually given off by the bulb) rather than watts (the amount of energy given off by the bulb). Light bulb packaging includes a table showing you what the comparisons are, so read it carefully. If you need help, most working in lighting departments of major big-box hardware stores have been trained on LED lighting.
Be careful when disposing of your compact fluorescent bulbs; they contain mercury, so if they break, that hazardous substance will require a HAZMAT team to clean.
Making simple changes in your home can mean real dollars and cents in your pocket. Next time, we’ll look at how your windows can impact your heating/cooling costs and easy changes to reduce your energy cost.