How Many Reasons Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

How Many Reasons Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

1024 675 Seth Terry

Introduction and Context

We’ve probably all experienced it: a light bulb too hot to touch. 

Although we turn lights on to combat the dark, we cannot avoid the release of heat.  Generally, we view this heat as harmless.  However, sometimes we feel that heat more unpleasantly – like when we burn fingertips on a lamp or bake under bright lights on a stage. 

The heat of course represents inefficiency in the production of light.  We all recognize that perfect efficiency is not possible.  However, until the last decade or so, most of the bulbs used in our homes relied upon the same technology developed by Edison in 1879.   Known as black-body radiation, this method for making light actually relies on high temperatures to emit photons.  But now, a new, more efficient, and “cooler” way to produce photons is widely available: light-emitting diodes (LEDs).  And being cool is just one of the reasons to change your light bulb!

Research Summary

Until recent years, LED bulbs that fit common household sockets were relatively expensive.  However, today these bulbs are often no more costly than older style bulbs – and can last 10 to 20 times as long.  Because of their greater efficiency, LEDs produce about four times more light output per Watt.  Better yet, they generate less unwanted heat in the process. 

Nevertheless, the majority of us have yet to make the switch to LEDs. 

With respect to lighting, the US Department of Energy suggests that simply changing out the five most often used bulbs or fixtures in a home can save $75 per year.  For a typical electricity consumer, this amount equates to about 5% savings.  However, many of us can realize greater savings by replacing further bulbs – though not necessarily all of the 60 bulbs or so found in our homes. 

Happily for LED users, the benefits of greater efficiency extend beyond the lighting function.  In a classic example of “good following good,” avoided heat output saves money on climate control as well.  In northern climates, these savings may wash out with additional heating requirements in winter.  But many buildings could experience net savings on the order of 20% for air conditioning through decreased heat output from lighting. 

Emporia Savings Calculations

Emporia calculates savings for LED replacement as falling between 5% and 10% of electrical consumption.  As indicated above, this amount is likely conservative given the additional savings found in LED replacement.  Specifically, the avoided cost of purchasing bulbs over time and the avoided cost of cooling. Doubtless, there are numerous reasons to change your light bulb!

Just as with other savings calculations, the more often a user opens the Emporia app, the higher will be their savings.  And the more you engage, the better your chances of attaining 50% energy savings!

Click here to learn about available LED options!