Energy Efficiency

Published on December 7th, 2015 | by Kyle Field

16

Help Make This Winter An LED Wonderland

December 7th, 2015 by  

My local electric utility, Southern California Edison, had an article about LEDs in its quarterly newsletter that was helpful in summing up the benefits that LEDs bring to the table, which seems especially relevant as they relate to the winter light show that many adorn their houses with in the form of Christmas lights.

LEDs are fantastic upgrades for residential homeowners, as they are a quick way to cut your home electricity bill. Many don’t realize it, but lighting usage can be 20 to 50% of small business energy demand, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the energy reduction opportunities translate equally well to the home. Specifically, LED-based lighting solutions make tons of sense for lights being applied to Christmas trees, as they run much cooler than traditional lighting sources which can dry out trees and make them more prone to fire – a big problem with already fire-prone Christmas trees.

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Image Credit: Shutterstock

According to the U. S. Department of Energy, Energy Star®– Qualified LED lights use at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting. LEDs are also fantastic investments for all in-home lighting, as they have a much longer life (22+ years) than traditional bulbs, which stretches the energy and cash savings coming from the initial investment over many years. LED lighting solutions are also more flexible than other home lighting sources, as the actual drivers – or the part of the bulb that generates the light – are very small and thus, allow for more creative applications.

For these reasons, pretty much anyone around the world can quickly and easily benefit from superior LED lighting through decreased energy costs, lower temperatures, reduced maintenance, more productivity, greater safety and a wider variety of color spectrum options – all just by swapping out a bulb. Let’s just hope that you remember how to do that when you have to change them again in 20+ years!

Compact Fluorescent lights were like the PHEVs of today – great transitional purchases to get some quick wins and savings but lacking the longevity and other positive characteristics of LEDs. With prices dropping on LEDs, and some government incentives available to cut the initial investment, LEDs are now the most energy-efficient, cost-effective, and safe lighting choice on the market today. When you’re out picking up a few new strands of LED Christmas bulbs, swing by and pick up a few LED lightbulbs to keep the savings going all year long!

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Image Credit: Kyle Field

We are currently test driving a few new LED units from a major manufacturer so keep your eyes peeled for our review of those in the next few days.


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About the Author

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. TSLA investor. Tesla referral link: http://ts.la/kyle623



  • Shelli

    I’m more than happy to find this site. I need to to thank you for one’s time due to this fantastic read! I definitely appreciated every part of it and I also have you book-marked to see new information on your website.

  • mike_dyke

    I’ve also just converted most of my lamps to LEDs. It was prompted by ASDA (Walmart for US) paying the VAT on the bulbs recently which dropped them down in price.
    In most cases I’ve been able to replace bulbs directly and not noticed the difference except in the amount of power used. By my calculations, I’ve saved about 50% so far over old bulbs.

    Anyone got any recommendations for replacing fluerescent tubes which are the biggest ones left to do?

    • Kyle Field

      I have 5 sets of those in my garage. I have seen a few full unit replacements at costco and was tempted. I was also looking at putting in a few of the square, flat LED fixtures from superbrightleds.com . For now, I think I have 5 of the 10 bulbs still lit up so I have some time before I have to replace them. The tubes themselves aren’t terribly inefficient…they are the same tech as CFLs…just not compact :). Some companies make LED retrofits…some make LED retrofits where you have to remove the ballasts…but I haven’t seen a solution that seems like great fit yet.

      • mike_dyke

        I’ve got a double set in my kitchen which is 6ft long and is rated at 70w a tube = 140w. I’ve seen some LED ones that are just 30w rather than 70w which will help, but they are quite expensive still.

        I’ll have to keep on looking.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I don’t know if there are LED drop in replacements but I noticed Costco was selling LED shop lights and several people were buying them.

  • Dragon

    We’ve been gradually swapping CFL for LED over the last year or two in the lights that get used the most, but the power usage of of LED wasn’t so much lower than CFL to make it worthwhile everywhere.

    Then the Nanoleaf price got down to $18 per bulb:

    https://www.earthled.com/products/nanoleaf-one-12-watt-100-watt-equal-omni-directional-led-bulb?variant=1001806020

    Nanoleaf uses only 12W for 100W brightness which is about half what CFLs use. Nano can also be used in fully enclosed fixtures which is normally a feature you have to pay a lot extra for in LED lights. We went ahead and replaced every CFL and even a few higher-power LEDs with Nanoleafs and they’re all great.

    The only downside with Nano is they’re slightly larger than a standard bulb, so there are a couple fixtures we own where they physically won’t fit. Also, they’re not dimmable (which is part of why they’re so efficient – dimming circuits waste power). We don’t use dimmers but I know that’s important to some people for whatever reason (I grew up with dimming lights and still never saw the point).

    We also have one fixture where Nano blinks at high frequency so we can’t use it there. A Switch100 liquid cooled bulb works in that fixture but I don’t know if they make those anymore and they’re not very efficient. It’s an enclosed fixture so the only other choice I’m aware of that might work is Xledia D100 which weren’t available when we purchased the Switch100.

    Anyway, nanoleaf was started by a few guys from Canada as a kickstarter, so that’s cool. They had some problems with the early units but as far as I can tell from my 24 or so bulbs, all the kinks have been worked out.

    • jeffhre

      I’ve always liked the Nanoleaf approach – very minimalist. Website shows $18 now, not 12 though. Oops, I see that you said 12W not $12, LOL.

  • Stop strobing your neighborhood with LEDs running in series on AC house lines.
    Cut them up into strips of six and run them off of 12 volts DC and watch the neighbors say look, that guy is running his LEDS full bore at 20 mA!!!!
    He’s so bright now!!!

  • dbr2

    I had converted my house to CFLs over a decade ago and over the past few years have been gradually upgrading to LEDs as my bulbs burn out. I am actually getting impatient for some of the bulbs to die, but can’t bring myself to dispose of something which still works.

    Along the way I bought a couple of LED bulbs that I was not happy with and fortunately was able to relegate them to less important areas of the house. Since LEDs can last a decade or more, my advice is to read reviews, understand color temperature and buy bulbs with a decent CRI, at least 80…

    I worry that some consumers will buy a very low cost, made-in-China LED and then have a bad experience which prevents them from capturing all of the benefits you mention.

    • Kyle Field

      I typically use a trickle approach where I start by sampling tech (generally at a higher price or lower quality) then feeling my way into how it can be applied or where it makes sense. LEDs were a perfect example and I have them from the last maybe 5 years spread around my house in various shapes, color temperatures, form factors, manufacturers and price points. My favorite are the $7/ea, 1.5watt bulbs from China I bought. Picked them up for the 8 decorative lights on our stairs and front of the house and I’m happy to be running the whole setup on just 12 watts 🙂 My early learning was to only buy name brand bulbs after I was burned on a $13 dimmable bulb I bought 3 years ago that went out. Now I have a backlog of $3/ea GE 40watt equivalent bulbs that I picked up on sale with a coupon at target. They’re perfect for giving out as test units to unbelievers…

    • Bob_Wallace

      I’ve got a box of used and new CFLs that I’m going to take to the thrift store.

      I couldn’t resist the temptation every time I walked past a display and saw LEDs for under $4….

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        I installed my leftovers at church 🙂

    • Brent Jatko

      We just made the leap direct from incandescents to LEDs a couple years ago when Cree came out with its dimmable bulb. I agree that cheap non-dimmable bulbs can be a disappointment, and we try to avoid those.

    • Robert

      I had the same issue when we moved in to our new home, which has beautiful overhead lighting on dimmer switches, but all incandescent bulbs. I replaced the most frequently used bulbs with LEDs straight away, and put the incandescent bulbs away as backups for the less frequently used overheads. Now we get the benefits of the LEDs, and I have backup lights for years to come for the less frequently used, longer living lights. I’ll probably never have to buy another light bulb again at this point, at least as long as I live in this house.

    • jeffhre

      The same advice is true for CFLs. I started converting to CFLs two decades ago. I’ve replaced many with LEDs. However, recently I tried using a CFL in one difficult to find (mid sized base) and fit fixture. When I finally saw bulbs that fit, I noticed all the packages had been taped up and placed on the store shelf – returns? Oh I thought proudly, they didn’t know it was a rarely used size and had to return them.

      I tried one – the ugliest industrial blue grey light ever!!! Lesson re-learned!

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