I keep changing incandescent bulbs in my home over to Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). I have been slowly doing this for quite a few years now, and at this point, I have converted 68%. I’m now down to the point that I’m left with a few incandescent reflector floods that have been working for over 15 years and refuse to burn out (though I have already changed some of them), some smaller “night light” style bulbs that really won’t save much by changing them, and some small lamps that are used so little that these also are not worth replacing. This is especially true since they don’t make CFLs small enough for some applications. If they do have a SIMILAR replacement, these are usually too bright, and really don’t save me enough electricity to offset the cost of purchasing the bulbs… CFL lamps get more expensive per watt in smaller sizes.
Since the process of changing over to CFL has taken many years, I can’t point to specific savings on my electric bill, but I can estimate that I’m probably saving at least $50.00 US per year. I have spent much less than that purchasing CFL bulbs, so the payback has been immediate. In addition, of course, to the reduced burden on the natural resources needed to produce that electricity. What is interesting is not just my savings, but multiplying out the savings across millions of homes around the world. This is where the difference lies, not in one person’s savings, but in the energy savings from the actions of the population of the whole world. Just imagine.
Of course, remember that CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury (much less than traditional fluorescent tubes) and must be disposed of properly — your local recycling center will have information available on how to do this correctly. In fact, many home improvement stores have drop off points for old, worn out CFL bulbs to make it easy for you to dispose of them safely.
And if you create power with your own wind and solar generators, any watts — and money — you save by converting your incandescent bulbs to CFL or L.E.D. will make the watts you generate go further so you can either draw less from the electric grid, or sell more electricity back to your power authority.
I have not yet converted any of my lights to L.E.D. as they are currently too expensive, and the payback would be very long — the savings would be great, but the initial investment is large. Were I putting the addition on my house today instead of 15 years ago (before L.E.D. light bulbs were available), I would put L.E.D. lamps in many of the fixtures. I would include that in the cost of the addition — and they would continue to pay off for as long as I own the house… and keep on paying off for those who live here in the future. In addition, any new holiday lights that I purchase are, of course, L.E.D. only.
You can see how changing the lamps in your home from incandescent to CFL or L.E.D. will save you a great deal of money and energy, so it is definitely worthwhile starting to do so as quickly as possible.