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Light Bulb Types: How Much Do LED Lights Save per Year?

Aren't LED light bulbs expensive?

If you're like me, you've wondered how much it cost to run a light bulb among various types of lighting? How much electricity does a light bulb use? We've all heard that LED lights are more energy efficient than regular lights, but how much do they really save? Will I really save money by switching my incandescent, compact fluorescent (CFL), halogen, or T8 fluorescent tube light bulbs?

I set out to research and find out if I should buy LED lights by uncovering how much they save per year. Below is what I've learned.

Types of lights compared in this article:

LED vs. Incandescent

Halogen vs. LED Flood Lights

LED vs. CFL

T8 Fluorescent Tube vs. LED Tube

Normal Household Lights: LED vs. CFL vs. Incandescent

The first types of lighting I researched were the common household light bulbs that most people have throughout their homes. There are three options for these light bulb types: Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent (CFL bulbs), and LED. After researching and crunching some numbers, I learned that when comparing LED vs CFL vs Incandescent, LED are the cheapest option.

LED vs Incandescent light bulbs: Although they have a slightly higher initial cost, LED lights make for lower cost, more efficient lighting

LED vs Incandescent light bulbs: Although they have a slightly higher initial cost, LED lights make for lower cost, more efficient lighting

Incandescent vs. LED: Incandescent Bulbs Are a Terrible Choice

Incandescent light bulbs are a terrible, terrible choice in 2017. Firstly, they consume more than six times as much electricity as an LED bulb. Second, they have a lifespan 50 times shorter than LED. Also, they are fragile - I can't count the number of times I've had to clean up fine broken glass from one falling on the floor, or turn off the breaker and use needle nose pliers to remove one from a socket. Lastly, the light quality is not as bright or consistent as LED.

Considering the Incandescent lightbulb was invented over 100 years ago, it makes sense that they are so poor compared to LED. What doesn't make sense is how many people still use them! Yes, Incandescent are a cheap light bulb—but only up front. If you know someone who is still using Incandescent bulbs, please show them the cheap LED lights below and tell them to try a few.

LED light bulbs I purchased (only $1.50 per bulb)

LED Light Bulb vs. Incandescent Light Bulb Comparison

 LED Light BulbIncandescent Light Bulb

Watts

10

60

Initial Cost

$1.50

$1

Lifespan

50,000 Hours

1000 Hours

Cost to purchase and operate 3 hrs / day for 1 year:

$2.81

$8.89

Cost to operate for second year:

$1.30

$8.89

LED vs CFL comparison: while more efficient than Incandescent, the LED vs CFL cost comparison shows LED being half the overall cost after the first year.

LED vs CFL comparison: while more efficient than Incandescent, the LED vs CFL cost comparison shows LED being half the overall cost after the first year.

CFL vs. LED: Battle of the Energy-Saving Light Bulbs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) were a great advancement, since they were noticeably more energy efficient when compared to traditional incandescent light bulbs, and were affordable to buy. Compared to incandescent, fluorescent bulbs are far superior—but when comparing CFL vs. LED, LED are about half the cost of CFL.

Compact fluorescent bulbs have many drawbacks that LED bulbs do not.

For one, CFL bulbs are even more fragile than Incandescent bulbs, and since they contain mercury, a broken bulb has the potential for toxic contamination. As well, many CFL bulbs have a flicker.

LED bulbs are very durable, since they have no moving parts, and don't require glass. Modern LED lights deliver very bright, flicker-free light.

In the past, a CFL vs LED cost comparison was favourable to CFL. But today, now that cheap LED lights can be purchased on Amazon Prime or at most hardware stores, it doesn't make sense not to replace CFL with LED. In the CFL bulbs vs. LED battle, LED is the champion.

CFL Bulbs vs. LED (LED Bulbs Are a Clear Winner)

 LEDCompact Fluorescent

Watts

8.5

13

Initial Cost

$1.50

$3.33

Lifespan

50,000 Hours

1000 Hours

Cost to purchase and operate 3 hrs / day for 1 year:

$2.81

$5.04

Cost to operate for second year:

$1.30

$1.70

Fluorescent vs LED: T8 LED tube lights are superior to regular T8 fluorescent tube lights

Fluorescent vs LED: T8 LED tube lights are superior to regular T8 fluorescent tube lights

T8 Led Tube Lights vs. Fluorescent Tube Lights

We've already compared one type of fluorescent vs. LED: now let's compare another. Fluorescent tube lights are one of the most common types of lighting, and a staple in office buildings, warehouses, etc, and because of this are probably the most common type of light bulb out there. However, LED tube lights are far superior. When comparing LED vs. fluorescent, LED have longer life, lower electricity consumption, and don't require a ballast (an expensive, energy-hungry part that needs to be replaced every few years).

Since office buildings and warehouses use so many T8 fluorescent tube lights, and also since these types of lights are on most of the day, they can make major savings by switching to T8 LED tube lights. Fluorescent tube lights are not cheap light bulbs: A small 4-story office building could have hundreds of fluorescent tube lights and could save thousands of dollars per year by switching to LED tube lights.

I have two, double bulb T8 fluorescent tube light fixtures in my laundry room. I was able to reduce the yearly operating cost from X to X by switching to T8 led tube lights. Below is the one I bought on Amazon Prime.

For more information about T8 LED tube lights, please check out another of my articles, specifically about the advantages of T8 LED tube lights.

The T8 LED tube light I purchased for my laundry room: Sunco T8 LED Tube Light ($7.00 per light)

T8 LED Tube Lights vs. Fluorescent Tube Lights Comparison

 T8 LED Tube LightT8 Fluorescent Tube Light

Watts

18

40

Initial Cost

$7.00

$7.00

Lifespan

50,000 Hours

30,000 Hours

Cost to purchase and operate 3 hrs / day for 1 year:

$9.37

$12.26

Cost to operate for second year:

$2.40

$5.30

Do led lights save money? Big time - comparing Halogen Light vs LED shows LED being about 2.5 times cheaper to operate.

Do led lights save money? Big time - comparing Halogen Light vs LED shows LED being about 2.5 times cheaper to operate.

LED vs. Halogen Flood Lights: LED Replacement for Halogen Light Bulbs

In the past, Halogen lights were considered one of the more premium types of lighting, often used as a flood light or spotlight. Since they use a different technology than normal light bulbs, many wondered, are halogen light bulbs energy saving?

The truth is, Halogen flood lights are almost as inefficient as incandescent, and even more expensive to purchase. They are also harder than regular lights to source.

Today, the options for an affordable led replacement for halogen are excellent, so comparing LED downlights vs Halogen makes sense. The cost of an LED Halogen replacement is actually less than the cost of a new Halogen bulb, making the LED vs Halogen comparison an easy one.

If you have any of these Halogen flood lights in your house, make sure to buy LED halogen light instead.

Philips LED Flood Lights ($4.75 per bulb) Replacement for Halogen Flood Lights

 LED Spot LightHalogen Spot Light

Watts

10

50

Initial Cost

$4.30

$7.00

Lifespan

50,000 hours

2000 hours

Cost to purchase and operate 3 hrs / day for 1 year:

$5.61

$13.57

Cost to operate for second year:

$1.30

$6.60

In conclusion, to answer my own question, how much do LED lights save per year, the answer is, more than enough. I have learned a lot about LED light bulbs, and the most important thing I've learned is that it doesn't make sense not to buy LED lights immediately.

Today the cost of LED bulbs is only slightly more than traditional bulbs, and the money saved from lower electricity use offsets the slightly higher bulb cost within months. So, do LED light bulbs save money? Yes! How much do LED lights save? That depends on the bulb.

Assumptions Used in These Calculations

To make the above calculations to determine which are the most energy-saving light bulbs, I've made some assumptions:

  1. Energy cost is $0.12 / kWh. This is the USA national average.
  2. Light is in use for 3 hours/day, 365 days per year.

I hope these numbers help you achieve the lowest light bulb usage cost! If you ever wondered how much LED bulbs save or which type of light bulb is the most energy efficient, I hope this article will answer your question (hint: it's always LED!).

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2017 Jamie Graham

Comments

Jamie Graham (author) from Ladysmith, BC on April 06, 2018:

Thanks for your comment David.

For a $100 investment, you could buy about 66 LED bulbs ($1.50 each on amazon).

66 bulbs is probably more than you have in your house anyway but let's ignore that for now.

Assuming each bulb were used for 1 hour / day, and the electricity cost is $0.12 / kwh, the cost per quarter to operate 66 incandescent bulbs would be $43.39, whereas the cost to operate the LED bulbs would be $8.68.

Overall, the LED bulbs would be about 1/5th the operating cost of the incandescents.

I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. I'm not an expert but have been going through the process of updating the lights in my home and have become an enthusiastic advocate for LED bulbs.

David Holt on April 05, 2018:

There is an old saying that money spent is money forgotten so the REAL point in buying LED bulbs is (or SHOULD be) a much more responsible attitude to reducing the amount of energy that is required to be generated and transmitted throughout the networks.

So, if I go out and spend $100 on LED bulbs for my home, how much can I expect to save on my quarterly power bills?.