March 8, 2017

How are you liking your CFL “squiggly” lightbulbs so far? Right! Neither do I. Slow to get bright. Icky light quality. Some die young. Fragile spirals become toxic shards. Hire a lawyer before you recycle.

But, you are still burning some CFLs at home now, right? So, do you revert to the old-school power guzzling Incandescent, bills be darned?

Lighting technology is changing

LED technology is evolving quickly. Not long ago, a 60-watt equivalent LED cost $20+ and weighed 3 pounds. Now a 60-watt equivalent costs $2.60 and looks and feels like a typical light bulb. Even better, a variety of satisfying light color choices and fixture types are available. Recessed can lights are easily retrofit. Under-cabinet LED tape casts a gourmet kitchen ambience. Tired vanity fixtures can be made fashion fresh. New twinkling candelabra LED bulbs are actually enchanting.

Rainbow7 is a Bluetooth infinite multicolor dimmable LED bulb with color scheduling and grouping programming, using a free phone app - about $30/bulb. If you have ever worked in theatre craft, this is a cost/scene revolution!

What can I do as a homeowner?

Back to your home, you can invest $20 in standard LED bulbs for all the fixtures you use every day. Install them all in one day, and you will see your BGE bill drop $3 to $5 the next bill. In 12 months, you’ll see $36 to $60 savings. But wait, your Return-On-Investment = 180% to 300%!* Bulbs left on all night can earn 1,000+% ROI! And, your LED investment continues saving for decades with no further cost. Ask your stockbroker about those ROIs. You will wish you had an office building or shopping mall to re-lamp.

Old bulbs? Recycle them 100% at home - in attics, crawlspaces and seldom-used closets. These - now “free” CFL and Incandescent bulbs - will last for decades and consume very little electricity, because they will seldom be turned on.

Now is the time to invest in LED bulbs and fixtures that you turn on every day or night. Get quality light to read by and pay less on your electric bills. And, you will stay off the stepladder for years.

A small but smart energy conservation investment such as LEDs - along with other small, medium, and large investments - add up and make a difference. Count the light bulbs you use every day today.

*Sample Calculation:

$20 buys 8 bulbs (at $2.50/bulb). You may pay less with utility rebates.

Burn 8 bulbs  X  6 hrs/night  X  360 nights  X  25 watts savings bulb

(432,000w  /  1000w/kWh)  X  $0.13/kWh = annual savings of $56.16  /  $20, or 281% ROI in the first year.

Frank Lee is the Facilities Energy Auditor for the Baltimore City Department of Public Works. 

Check out the Baltimore Office of Sustainability to learn more about programs, policies, and actions by government, citizens, businesses, and institutions that improve the long-term environmental, social, and economic viability of Baltimore City.

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