By: Danny Orlando
It’s amazing how many light fixtures we have in our homes. According to a December 2012 Residential End-Use Consumption Study by the Department of Energy, U. S. homes range from 50-80 light fixtures. Changing all of those lights to LED technology is a daunting and expensive undertaking, but it is a worthwhile effort. Here is why:
LED lighting prices are coming down and are now usually between $10 and $25 dollars each. And, in some locations there are utility incentives that drive down the price even lower. Switching over to ENERGY STAR certified LEDs is best achieved one lamp at a time. One tactic is to buy one light per month and before you know it, you’ve achieved your goal!
You should look for ENERGY STAR certified LED lights because these have been tested by a third-party to assure they meet a range of quality criteria. Also, pay close attention to the color temperature of the light that you are choosing. The color temperature is listed on the ‘nutrition’ label on the package. If you want the familiar glow of an incandescent, look for a color temperature at or below 3000 K. The good news is that everything you need to know is right on the package.
I’m an avowed energy nerd, so I’ve actually counted the light fixtures in my home. My home has 37 light fixtures and seven track light fixtures. Since I work in the field of energy efficiency, I am an early adopter and have changed 83 percent of the fixtures to LED lights. I have been able to find LEDs for every variety of fixtures. One interesting usage is in my stove hood which uses a Par20 lamp. Usually, this would be a poor location for LEDs because of the hot stove surface as heat is the enemy of LEDs. But, so far, the LED lamps have lasted for years.
Track light fixtures that use four 50-watt lights (MR-16) are not an energy efficient choice for lighting, but mine are rarely used, and the ones that are used more frequently are controlled by occupancy sensors. There is one track, however, that is on eight hours each day. On a recent trip to the home improvement store, I found LED replacement lamps for this fixture, but they were $30 each. To retrofit this fixture would cost more than the fixture itself, so I returned home empty handed. But, then I decided to perform the calculations and see if purchasing the LED replacement lamps would make sense. The results were astounding. Because of the amount of hours this fixture is on, the payback was about two years and I would save 550 kilowatt-hours each year! To state that another way, four LED lights eliminated my November electricity bill – forever. Needless to say, I returned to the store and made the purchase. I have a few more steps to take to be completely LED, but I only have four fluorescents left to replace. Although utility costs in my area have increased 60 percent in the last 20 years, my costs have increased only one percent because of consistent energy efficient choices!
It’s amazing to realize we are at a time when our children won’t know what changing a light bulb means. My kids asked me, “How long do LEDs last?” And I answered, “I’ll put them in my will for you”. Now, if you move to a new home, not only will you take your furniture, refrigerator, and clothes, but you’ll also pack up your amazing LED lights.
About the Author: Danny Orlando is the Regional Energy Star Program manager in EPA’s Atlanta office and has been promoting and implementing Energy Star both at work and at home for 21 years.