Tool lets you add up savings from swapping out light bulbs

Swapping out old-style incandescent bulbs for power-sipping compact fluorescent or LED ones can save a bunch of money. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

The U.S. government’s Energy Star program, which promotes energy efficient devices and appliances, offers a tool with which consumers can calculate just how much they’ll save by exchanging incandescent bulbs for more efficient ones. To use the tool, consumers have to enter how many bulbs they plan to replace, what type of bulb they are replacing (a 40 watt one, say, or maybe a 60-watt one), the average amount of hours the bulb is on each day and the cost of electricity in your state.

(Note that the calculator comes in the form of a spreadsheet. To use it, you’ll have to download it from the Energy Star site and open it in Microsoft Excel. Unfortunately, the calculators built into the spreadsheet don’t work when you open it in Google Docs or Open Office.)

Factoring in energy costs and the costs of the bulbs themselves, the Energy Star folks estimate that consumers can save at least $40 over the life of the energy efficient bulb for each one they use to replace an incandescent bulb. They also estimate that each CFL bulb pays for itself in saved energy costs in about 6 months.

In my Tech Files column this week, I wrote about energy efficient bulbs and other ways of saving both energy and money. You’ll find links to other guides and calculators there.

Photo of a LED light bulb by Mercury News Staff Photographer Maria J. Avila Lopez.


Tags: , , , ,


Share this Post

  • l_nino

    The tool underestimates the savings. It does not factor the savings in airconditioning because now you are not generating all that heat inside the house from the old filament bulbs. The actual savings are much higher.

  • Jeff Grayson

    Some LED smart bulbs have additional features which can save even more energy. For example, Robosmart LED bulbs are controlled with your smart phone and have a built-in dimmer. Adjusting the brightness to the right amount needed for the task will reduce energy consumed. Robosmart bulbs can also turn on automatically when you arrive home and off when you leave. Inside the home light can move with you, turning on and off as you move from room to room. Each bulb tracks its energy usage so you can directly see how much energy is being saved.

  • Bill Seabrook

    My incandescent bulbs are 100 percent efficient during the eight cool months when they supplement my home heating. The electricity cost is lower than the cost of using heating oil.