Get Real And Finally Discard Your Incandescent Bulbs

Many home owners and apartment dwellers have changed out a few incandescent bulbs as they burn out and replace them with a compact fluorescent light (CFL).   A step in the right direction but typically these new energy efficient options are installed in a little used, remote light fixture that will not meaningfully reduce your electric bill.

Many consumers still reflect back on their first CFL experiment when they determined the distaste for the bulb shape, size and color output.   But did you know that the technology behind CFLs has been rapidly improved over the last few years and its now time to give it another serious try.  Prices have dropped and quality has improved.

Instead of a slow, patchwork approach, why not change out your entire house, store, or office so that you really realize the full benefit of either CFL or LED technology?

Be bold, go ahead and change out every single socket.  If you can’t find it at your local big box store or hardware store, there are some pretty good online sites such as that carry all sort of specialty energy efficient bulbs.   You can even find CFLs for your chandelier, bathroom vanity lamps, and small wall sockets.  

After all, the incandescent bulb was invented more than 100 years ago and has not changed much.

Ask yourself, how many other 100 years old inventions are you still using today?  Did you know that a high percentage of the energy consumed by an incandescent bulb goes to generating inefficient heat?

Until recently, assorted CFL bulb types and sizes were hard to find.  But between the local stores and online outlets, you can now change over your entire house with lighting that is appropriate for practically any function, fixture, and which produces that preferred warm colored light.

The concerns about early CFLs (mercury, shape, light color, cost) have been addressed and worked out. Back in the summer of 2007,  one of our writers changed over his entire house, 100 sockets in total  He tossed out all the incandescents (even the ones still working) and switched to all CFLs, with a few LEDs sprinkled in.

The upfront  investment at that time was $725 dollars (bulb costs is now probably 1/2 that amount). Pulling his electric bills together,  he tracked his family’s usage before and after the changeover and realized a monthly year over year savings of 35%.   The test was conducted in the Washington DC area, which already has relatively expensive electric rates along with most of the coastal, more populated states. Fully loaded cost per kilowatt, with all the taxes thrown-in are about $0.18.

It only took ten months to recover this investment and then his family began to realize a monthly net savings of about $80 per month or $960/year in electricity costs.  Extend that over the projected seven year life of these bulbs and that is significant money in the bank.

Looking at it another way, this house is essentially off the electric grid every third year and its owners bank nearly $1000 every year in cost savings.   Carbon output has been reduced by 25 CO2 tons. Nowadays, changing a bulb is no longer on the “to do” list,  nor does he get upset when his kids leave the lights burning in a long vacant room.

Give it a try this weekend.  Make a whole house change and start saving money and reducing your carbon footprint. Another green tip brought to you by the Green Blizzard.

Those incandescent bulbs belong in the Smithsonian…

Here are a few other Green Blizzard articles that might be of interest:




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About the author

Keith Blizzard

A life-long environmentalist, Keith set out on the never ending journey of adjusting his lifestyle to a more sustainable one, with a goal of annually shrinking his carbon footprint. When he looked around for a dependable source of meaningful carbon footprint reduction ideas, it was pretty lame - so he launched Green Blizzard loaded with eco-friendly lifestyle tweaks. When he's not managing Green Blizzard, you'll find him on the trails around Mid Coast Maine with his trusty trail companion mutt, Moose.