The Price of Light Bulbs


Besides the fact that it’s soon going to be impossible to buy them, only a very rich person who doesn’t want to remain that way would continue to use standard Incandescent light bulbs.  Electricity costs have been rising for decades, with no end to increases in sight.

In the United States, lighting accounts for slightly more than 20% of total energy consumption.  The US government has recognized that conventional Incandescent lighting doesn’t make use of energy effectively, and introduced laws that require public buildings, industry, and households to choose more environmentally friendly lighting.

The move to Compact Fluorescent can save a consumer about 75% in energy cost over a comparable amount of light generated by incandescent bulbs.  Incandescent bulbs, in general service, will last for 750-1000 hours.  CFLs will last ten to fifteen times as long, reducing maintenance and replacement costs considerably.

And this is where LED lighting, pardon the pun, shines.   Initial costs of conversion to LED source light are higher than CFL, because LED light sources that screw into common Edison type light fixtures cost more than Incandescents or CFLs, and specialized LED Luminaires cost more because they require power supplies and special dimmers.

This said, LED lighting is more efficient than Compact Fluorescent, so energy savings will work to offset the higher start-up cost over the long term.  But the real savings of conversion is in the cost of the consumables.  LED source lights will last for 30000 hours or more, about 4 times as long as a CFL, and 30 times as long as an Incandescent.  This savings in light bulbs, over the long term, will more than pay for the more expensive (and much nicer) LED lighting you really want.

And then you have to take into account the cost of disposal for the CFL lights, which contain mercury, either in vapour or amalgam form.  Currently, most jurisdictions have special facilities for disposal of hazardous goods, which means that these costs are paid for by the consumer indirectly through their tax dollars.  LED lights, on the other hand, don’t contain hazardous materials and can often be recycled.


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