I continually mention using CFLs for home lighting, but I haven’t laid out the entire case for CFLs in one place before. It’s time to change that. Here are five huge reasons why you should switch your home light bulbs to CFLs today. (Even if you already use CFLs, you may want to read this list… there’s something on it for you, too.)
For this exercise, I’m going to refer to a six pack of GE 26 watt CFLs, which you can get at Wal-Mart for $15.16, giving them a cost of $2.53 a bulb. These bulbs claim 100 watt equivalence, but I actually find their brightness to be between a 75 watt and 100 watt bulb, so we’ll compare them to 75 watt bulbs. For comparison’s sake, a four pack of GE’s 75 watt incandescents at Amazon is $4.11, or $1.03 a bulb.
1. The bulbs themselves are cheaper. If you compare the lifespan of the bulbs on the package, the incandescent bulbs work for 750 hours, while the CFL has a rated life of 8,000 hours. Just using that number, that means that the cost of regular incandescents over 8,000 hours is $10.99, while the single CFL over 8,000 hours costs only $2.53 for the bulb, a total savings of $8.46. Even if you don’t believe that the lifespan is really that long, even half that long for the CFL, the long term cost is still cheaper for the CFL. From my experience, I have yet to have a single CFL burn out after more than a year of using GE CFLs.
2. The per-hour cost of energy for CFLs is cheaper. The CFL uses 26 watts; the incandescent bulb uses 75 watts. That’s a difference of 49 watts per hour of usage in favor of the CFL. Let’s say you use a bulb for 4 hours a day, and your energy cost is $0.10 per kilowatt hour. With those rates, one 26 watt CFL in a socket instead of a 75 watt incandescent saves you $7.16 over the course of a year. Let’s say there are twenty bulbs in your home. That’s $150 right there.
3. The time involved is less. Let’s say it takes two minutes to change a light bulb, including the time involved buying it, fishing it out of storage, unscrewing the old one, screwing in the new one, and disposing of the old one. Let’s also assume 8,000 hours of usage, which at a rate of 4 hours a day is 2,000 days of usage, or about four and a half years. Over that time, you’ll invest two minutes in changing CFL bulbs versus twenty one minutes changing incandescent bulbs. Multiply that by a theoretical twenty bulbs in your house and you’re talking about six and a half hours of time lost changing incandescent bulbs. That number seems preposterous, but check the math yourself.
4. They cut carbon emissions. Based on this table, on average in the United States, 1.35 pounds of carbon is emitted per kilowatt hour. Over twenty one hours of usage, a 26 watt CFL bulb reduces your energy consumption by one kilowatt hour over a 75 watt incandescent bulb – at four hours a day, that happens for each bulb every five and a quarter days. Thus, for twenty bulbs in your home, over the course of a year you’ll eliminate nearly a ton of carbon dioxide emissions (1,877 pounds, to be precise). If you’re concerned about disposal of CFL bulbs, most municipal areas have a recycling center that will take CFLs and properly dispose of them – here’s a locator – so that the gases in them won’t wind up in a landfill (and neither will the glass).
5. You can save $1 on a GE CFL during July 2007. If you’re still held back by the cost, GE is offering a $1 off coupon for any package of GE Energy Smart CFL bulbs – even the single bulb package. This trims the above-described package of a six pack of 26 watt bulbs down to $14.16, or $2.36 a bulb, which actually makes the calculations above even better for CFLs.
There’s really no excuse not to switch – or at least try them out – at this point. If you’re concerned about lighting, use the coupon to buy a small quantity of CFLs (remember to get one of a higher equivalent wattage than what you use) and try them out. Even if you don’t like them for primary lighting, there are out-of-the-way places in every home where they can be used – closets and so forth.
CFLs are one of the simplest frugal choices you can make – give them a shot this month.