Crunching the numbers on light bulb costs vs. savings

KUSA - With "Earth Day" approaching, what better time to clear up some confusion over the new light bulbs that you're seeing on store shelves.

The old-style incandescent light bulb you were so accustomed to hasn't been phased out after all, it's just become more efficient.

General Electric has come out with a new incandescent bulb that looks just like the old one. It costs about the same: $4 for a pack of six. Because they were able to squeeze more lumens out of the old design they are able to sell them under the new government restrictions.

But the new standard is the LED 60-watt bulb. The fins on the bulb help to dissipate the heat, but it's a remarkable piece of technology. It uses only one-sixth of the power of the old bulb: 9.5 watts versus the 60 watts in the old incandescent.

While it is expensive, at $9 to $12 a bulb, it will pay for itself in the first 3 years of use and it will burn for an average of 23 years before you need to replace it.

If it still seems terribly expensive, consider this: if you replaced the lights that burn the most often in your home with these new light bulbs, over the course of 23 years, the average household would save $13,000 in energy costs.

Also, the experts say, buy only one a month. Don't go out and buy them all at once.

When you move, take the bulbs with you. Go and buy the $4 six-pack of the new technology incandescents, replace your LED's and pack them up and take them with you.

Say you want to save money on energy but you just can't see spending $9 to $12 a bulb. You can instead buy the CFL two-pack for $7.99 and you'll get 7-years out of each. People dislike a lot of things about CFLs: they are slow to warm up and they are a bit of a hassle to dispose of because of the mercury in them.

But GE is working to improve them as well. Ace says they have a spectrum of light that enhances black print on a newspaper or tablet.

Finally there are halogens. These are also energy efficient. They will last about two years and they blast light. A lot of people who need lots of white light love those. They're about $3 apiece.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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