The New Price of the Light Bulb

Everybody has heard that incandescent light bulbs are going away.  For many years, we have seen compact fluorescent light bulbs in the market and now there are many options for LED lights.  If you are still buying or even stocking up on incandescent bulbs, you’re throwing away your money.  CFL and LED bulbs use only 25% of the energy of an incandescent bulb.  CFL bulbs last 10 times longer than the old bulbs and LED lasts 25 times longer.  With the lower energy usage, you can save about $6 per bulb if you leave them on for about 4 hours a day.  The industry estimates that by switching to CFL or LED bulbs, you can save approximately $50/year.    Check out the analysis below of a comparison of a CFL and incandescent bulb.

$16.45 to buy and operate a CFL for 10,000 hours:
13 watts x 10,000 hours = 130 kWh
130 kWh x 11.5 cents per kWh of electricity = $14.95
$14.95 + $1.50 for bulb = $16.45

$74 to buy and operate 10 60-watt Incandescent bulbs for 10,000 hours
60 watts x 10,000 hours = 600 kWh
600 kWh x 11.5 cents per kWh = $69
$69 + $5 for 10 bulbs = $74


My husband is all about cost efficiency when it comes to electricity usage, especially since we have gone solar.  We don’t generate electricity to waste it, so believes in energy-efficient lighting.  Our house has been outfitted entirely with CFL bulbs (except for our foyer chandelier that is quite difficult to reach).  We are in the middle of renovating our kitchen and put in new recessed lighting.  We went with LED bulbs.  At $40 a bulb, it was a little difficult to pay that bill, but I know that in the end they’ll save us money, and the lighting is gorgeous!

Now there is a new light bulb coming on the market.  Philips won a $10 million government contest to generate a replacement to the 60 watt incandescent bulb.  The goal was to create a bulb that more closely resembled that glow of the incandescent bulb while being energy-efficient.  It will use only 10 watts of power and lasts 30 times longer than the comparable 60 watt incandescent bulb.  At a price tag of $60, I doubt many consumers will be buying them, but Philips promises to reduce the price using utility rebates to bring that price down to $20-$30.  Utility rebates seem to be a pretty common way to reduce prices of these new bulbs.  You’ll have to shop around to find a good deal, but they’ll be out there.  I’m sure we will buy some too, although we’ll either have to wait 10 years until a CFL burns out or buy a new lamp.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Andrew on April 19, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Nice post! I’m waiting for LED lights to get cheaper, pretty much skipping CFLs except for outdoor use because I just don’t like the look of them inside, but I think LED looks great. Here’s an interesting article about LED vs. CFL in Wired that you might find interesting. There were a few limitations of CFLs that I did not know about before, such as cycling them too frequently can greatly reduce their lifespan.


    • Thanks for the link! I think that we will slowly migrate to LED bulbs as well. We had th CFL sprial bulbs outside our house and were really unhappy because they take so long to warm up. When we take the dog out at night, we want light as soon as we open the door! And, I think that the packaging might say they are for interior use only. Anyway, we bought some relatively inexpensive LED lights as replacements from Costco. They look much better but don’t illuminate nearly as well.


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