Change Your Light Bulb Only Once Every 15 Years? It’s Possible
“Going green” isn’t just a thing you do to save the planet. It’s something that you do to save yourself the hassles of replacing products that wear out far too fast or have special disposal requirements.
How often do you have to change a light bulb in your house? If you’ve changed one in the last 15 years, you might now consider that too often. LED light bulbs are now on the market that will make changing any light bulb as rare as buying a new car or moving to a new house.
Here are a few stats to chew on. Old, incandescent bulbs have a standard lifespan of about 1,800 hours (although there has been one burning in Livermore, Ca for over 100 years straight), and compact fluorescent bulbs, which last for 8,000+ hours, contain a high level of toxic mercury. New LED Lights, although initially more expensive than the other two choices, last for 50,000+ hours and contain no harmful chemicals.
When the move to green light bulbs started, it was all about energy efficiency. The compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs that had just come on the market lasted 5 times longer than the standard bulbs that were available. Everyone rushed out to get these from the stores, with their lower wattage, longer lifespans, and the aforementioned increased efficiency. CF bulbs cost about $10 each at the time but would recoup their initial cost in just under 4 years. Unfortunately, the CF bulbs still contained mercury and required a hazardous chemical disposal procedure (which a majority of Americans did not follow). Also ignored was the fact that these bulbs took up to a minute to warm up, longer if they were in really cold areas like outbuildings and basements, and that the glass encasement was thin and easily breakable.
The big selling points for LED light bulbs are exactly the same as compact fluorescents, except that they last longer and use even less energy. They have no harmful mercury or other chemicals and the diffusing glass cases are thick so they don’t easily break. So, why haven’t LED bulbs caught on as fast as compact fluorescents did? Upfront costs. The average bulb costs between $25 and $45. In a standard 2000 sq. ft. home there are 50+ light bulbs. Replacing all of them with LEDs would cost, at minimum, $1250. That price tag, when compared to the current price of CF bulbs, makes it a hard sell. The same 2000 sq. ft. house could be outfitted with new CF bulbs for just under $200.
Another key selling point for the LED bulbs over the CFs is that they don’t lose life when they are turned on and off in quick succession. CF bulbs that are put in rooms where the lights are only keep on for a few minutes at a time (closets, bathrooms, etc.) suffer significant decreases in their lifespan, even more so than incandescent. By starting out with one or two LED bulb purchases and using them in closets, basements and out buildings, you can begin to make the transition to the most efficient light bulbs on the planet without breaking your budget.
It’s fine to keep your CF bulbs until they burn out, especially if they are in living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens or other high use areas. They’ll be good for several years. But when they do burn out, replace them with LEDs and you won’t have to do it again for over 15 years!
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