Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Home Improvement: LED Lighting

In the past, we have highlighted some of the improvements we have made to our high-performance home in Briar Chapel, such as installing a hot water reciculator and solar power system.

Most recently, we have started to replace some of our incandescent lightbulbs with LED lighting. For example, we swapped out some of our 60W bulbs with Cree's new 9.5W dimmable LED light bulbs, which you can pickup at Home Depot for around $10-13. We chose the 2700K version, which offers a warm (soft) white color.

Unlike CFLs, these LED bulbs look and light very similarly to the incandescent bulbs we've all grown up with. They contain no mercury, and light up instantaneously. They are backed by a 10-year warranty, and are designed to deliver up to 25,000 hours of light for your home (about 22.8 years according to the specs). Best of all, they use at least 84% less energy than incandescent bulbs, which translates to $1.14 per year based on 3 hrs of use per day.

Now, we know some of you are wondering why we would spend $10-13 on a single lightbulb, so consider this... a regular incandescent bulb costs $1 and uses $7 of electricity a year if used three hours a day. A Cree bulb may cost $10, but it uses 10% of the electricity, costing $1 a year. And while an old-school bulb will burn out in less than two years at that rate, LED bulbs will keep working for more than 20 years. Besides, Cree is based right here in the Triangle, so it feels good to be supporting our local community while reducing our energy needs.

Our only complaints about these new bulbs is that they emit a soft "buzzing" sound when on, and they will not dim as low as our incandescents used to (from white to yellow light). Otherwise, for these two Watt-watchers, the LED bulbs make a lot of sense now that the prices have come down tremendously.