LED lights are expensive. Actually, they are very expensive; in some cases, they can be over 75x the price of a traditional incandescent light bulb. Part of the value is that the life of a LED is much longer. I have seen some bulbs advertised with a 15 year life.
If I replace a high use incandescent light bulb twice a year then I need to compare the price of an LED light bulb to the total cost of 30 traditional light bulbs. (I am not going to complicate this with time value of money). However, even 30 light bulbs doesn’t necessarily cover the cost of one LED bulb.
Even if it did there are still many people who are skeptical that the LED light would last that long. And even if you could get past a questionable bulb life the cost of replacing multiple bulbs can be a large upfront expense. For these reasons I have avoided LED light bulbs until now.
Six months ago I installed an energy monitor in my home. Without any additional expenses I immediately lowered my bill because it accurately showed my wasteful consumption. Two months after installing it I started narrowing my focus on lights. My monitor identified my high usage areas.
My first thought was to start policing the lights on/off while we were at home. However, after considering where these areas were I realized that this approach would not yield much savings. After all, hallway and kitchen lights are reasonable to be on given our lifestyle. I started shopping around for LED lights. Here a few lessons learned:
1) Home Depot has a great display for LED lighting that helps you determine which type of light is most appropriate.
2) Home Depot keeps a clearance section that often times has pretty good promotions for LED lights. (I am not picking on Lowe’s. There are many items that I shop at Lowe’s for but they definitely lose on the LED front.)
3) Identify your high usage lights. Put them on your shopping list. When you see a good deal buy!
4) Do not replace every light in a particular room. Focus on the ones that are actually on all the time. This was most evident in my living room which has twice as many lights than we really need. (not my decision) However, it was easy to see which ones actually get used. I bought for those only. This works if you actually use the display at Home Depot to get the right brightness.
5) I have replaced 4 high usage areas in my home and have seen a measurable savings. Instead of listing it out I put in the below video so you can see 3 areas on the energy monitor.
6) As you can see the savings can build up. Is it worth it? So far, yes. However, I cannot see myself paying the regular retail price. The most I have paid for these bulbs is 25% off retail but I have also paid as much as 75% off as well.
7) I have not purchased any LED lights over the internet yet. As I get more comfortable with which light bulb is right for which room and potentially see the deals dry up at Home Depot then I will venture out to online shopping.
8) If you are shopping for lights that are dimmable then be forewarned that you will also need a LED dimmer. Do not expect your LED to last long if you don’t switch out the dimmer and purchase an LED advertised as dimmable.
Of course, I am still skeptical about the 15 year life of the bulb but as you can see between the savings on my power bill and the cost of light bulbs I don’t have to go that far out to save.