LED Light Power Savings


Maybe you own stock in the local utility and you prefer paying 10 times the amount for power.  For the rest of us, LED lighting is pretty much slam dunk due to a few factors but the biggest by far is the savings on powering your lights.  There's no better lighting technology commercially available to keep money in your pocket.  Most residences and business are in some other business...not the power or lighting business so let's break down some of terminology and show you how this directly translates into money...your money by the way.

We all tend to look at utilities bills whether is gas, electric, or water and just assume there's not much we can do about.  Hey, we can barely read the bills much less figure out what's really driving the monthly bills.  Interestingly, the utility portion of our monthly expenditure usually ranks in the top 5 line items in terms of how much it eats up.  It's a lot of money but till now, we always looked at it as a necessary evil beyond our efforts to really reduce.  If you're still burning (quite literally) incandescent and fluorescent lights, that has all changed.  Let's break down the power savings across the three different types of bulbs with just a common 60 watt light.

First, we need to set the ground rules.  We'll assume 10 cents per KWH or Kilowatt hour.  This is a measure of electricity and it essentially speaks of a thousand (the "kilo" part) watts times an hour.  It's a standard measure of electricity and one that should be on your electric bill once you become fluent in Chinese, Russian, and binary code.  The cost per KWH (10 cents in our example) can fluctuate according to State, type of user (residence versus various times of business) and overall usage.   10 cents is actually pretty low and your cost of electricity is likely higher..perhaps much higher.  Looking at our home bill, it's tiered by usage and a large percentage of my house's lighting (before the LED installation) was actually at a tier 3 rate or 42 cents per KWH.  That's 4 times the estimate were using so the numbers to follow are very very conservative for most people.  The second piece aside from cost per KWH is the wattage your actual lights use.  This is where LED lights shine (and shine and shine and..).  Let's look at actual numbers.

An incandescent bulb at 60 watts in our baseline since it's such a common bulb.  Any brighter or stronger bulb will only magnify the savings since increased wattage is required.  A typical CFL light bulb which is really just a less efficient alternative to LED's would probably match that wattage with 13 watts.  It would also add in some nasty phosphorous and mercury to the equation.  Now...drum roll please.  You can easily get the lumens or amount of light from and LED with 3 watts.  That's right 3 watts will match a 60 watt incandescent.  Since the electricity utility charges you based on watts used (the KWH), this directly translates into money.  An LED is almost 20 times more efficient and conversely, 20 times less taxing on your monthly budget.  Of course the LED last much longer than the other types of bulbs which offsets the higher LED cost.  Why do LED's create the same amount of light with such less power?

Incandescents and CFL's are very poor vehicles to turn electricity into lumens.  That's what we want after all...to turn electrons into photons as efficiently as possible.  Incandescents transfer 90% of their incoming power into heat.  That's not a very good system but it was first and easiest technologically speaking.  Lights but be better served if we wanted to heat a space...not light it.  CFL's are better but only get you part of the way to what LED's do.  Again, we have heat production (although less than incandescent) and they use a chemical process of exciting certain gasses that isn't entirely efficient.  LED's basically pump electrons into photons.  There's almost no heat and very little waste in the process.  It's the most direct we have and that's why you pay less per lumen of light.

The net effect is this.  Over a 5 year window which is the conservative life of the LED light, you can expect to save $20 annually from one light bulb change.  This is a combination of power savings and less bulb replacements.  Look, if you want to invest in a utility, buy their stock.  In the meantime, reduce the amount you send to them by 90% or more.   Don't worry...they'll still find ways to buy pet T-Rexs.   

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