Are LED bulbs worth the cost?

are led bulbs worth costAs part of my cost saving habits, I started looking into changing out my lightbulbs to LEDs, since I’ve read that they are more akin to incandescent bulbs in tones yet are as energy efficient (or more) than CFLs. Many of the local hardware stores also have rebates subsidized by the local utility companies (maybe they have governmental subsidies as well?).

Many of my fixtures are already using old CFLs from years ago—they take about 30 seconds before becoming sufficiently useful. I’ve found that with my short amount of patience even thirty seconds can irritate me. Moreover, none of my CFLs support dimmer switches. I still have a few residual incandescent bulbs for those fixtures.

Let’s look at the energy consumption of the three bulbs:

Incandescent CFL LED
Power consumption 60W 14W 10W
Initial cost free (already using) free (already using) or $2 $4
Energy cost $0.12/kwh $0.12/kwh $0.12/kwh
Extra hours of use needed to equate cost of Incandescent 4.3x + $2 (cost of new bulb) 6x + $4 (cost of new bulb)

If you look at the extra number of hours of use needed to justify the cost savings, there is no way that any energy-saving bulb is worth the cost. Sure, incandescent bulbs blow out and you have to replace them yearly, but most of us have boxes of them in storage.

CFL vs LED Bulbs

I do see the merit of having LED over CFL bulbs if you are choosing between the two. In my experience, LED bulbs only cost marginally more than CFL bulbs. However, CFL bulbs have two major downsides:

(1) Most of them do not work with dimmer switches.

(2) It takes much longer for a CFL to “warm” up and become bright. Usage for short periods of time actually decrease longevity of the bulb.

If you already are using CFLs, the energy savings difference seen in switching to an LED is negligible. The cost LEDs, while much lower than they were several years ago, still lags behind that of CFLs. It would take several years of extended use to replace a CFL in use with an LED.

What bulbs did I switch?

My pre-existing fixtures with incandescent bulbs on dimmer switches were all switched to LEDs. Costco was selling 60W equivalent LED flood bulbs for $2.49 apiece. I use these lights approximately 3-4 hours a day in the kitchen, and more on the weekends. The rest of my CFLs remained CFLs. I saw no need to replace them since they were already energy saving.

How much of your home is powered using LED bulbs?

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

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