– Ben Martens

Low Power Living Room

Tyla laughs whenever I start talking about light bulbs, but here we go again. Our living room, eating area and kitchen are now completely incandescent free. When we bought the house, that area contained 11 60-watt bulbs, 2 100-watt bulbs, and 5 40-watt bulbs. When all the lights were on, that was using over a killowatt every single hour! We spend most of our time in that area and if we left all those lights on for 5 hours a day, that’s $193/year in electricity bills. With the new combination of CFL and LED bulbs, that same usage would cost $32. Not too shabby. By my calculations, it will take us about 2-3 years to recoup the cost of the bulbs and then we’ll be saving money.

The tricky part of this was finding good 40 watt equivalent LED candelabra base bulbs. There aren’t a lot of them out there yet. I tried three different types:

  • Costco sells a 3 pack made by Feit. These were the cheapest at about $10 for three bulbs, but they were also the lowest quality. The light wasn’t the standard 2700K color that you get from incandescent. It was significantly whiter and it also has a delay when you turn it on.
  • Torchstar sells a bulb for $7 that turns on instantly but is a bit too white. It’s better than the Costco bulbs, but still not acceptable for a lamp that we use all the time in close proximity to other lights.
  • The winner was a bulb from Sexy LEDs. It has the right color and comes on instantly. If I had to knock it, I’d say that it’s not quite as bright as a 40w incandescent bulb. It was close enough for our purposes.

Unfortunately those Sexy LED bulbs are also the most expensive. I chose to use them in that main light fixture above our eating area and then use the cheaper Costco bulbs in the other areas of the house like the stairwell and the upstairs hallway. Color and delay don’t make as big of a difference there.

This will all pay off as long as the bulbs are reliable since part of the savings is that you basically never have to replace them. We’ll have to wait a while to figure out if that holds true.