Penny Saved

How can you stretch your money? How can you get more for your dollars? Here’s a bright idea. Save electricity by changing from incandescent light bulbs to LED bulbs.

The incandescent light bulb was invented by Thomas Alva Edison in 1879 in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Edison, a prolific inventor, also invented the motion picture camera and the phonograph. He held 1,093 U.S. patents in his name.

Incandescent light bulbs have been the standard light bulbs in our homes for years. They were cheap and reliable. Com Ed even distributed free light bulbs to customers. The typical life of an incandescent bulb was 1,200 hours. The free bulbs were available in 40 watt, 60 watt, and 75 watt sizes. Maybe you remember picking up a bunch of them at a drugstore.

Then in 2007 the federal government passed a law to phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs for general lighting purposes in favor of more energy efficient lighting alternatives. The law was to take effect in 2014. Two types of bulbs were approved, Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Some consumers tried to understand the pros and cons of the two alternatives. Others revolted and hoarded boxes of incandescent bulbs.

The Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) had some appeal to the consumers. They had an average life span of 8,000 hours compared to the 1,200 hours for the incandescent light bulbs. The annual operating cost for thirty bulbs was $76.65 compared to $328.59 for the incandescent bulbs. However, the cost per bulb was high, often $1.50 or more per bulb. The “squiggly” appearance was a problem. The bulb took time to heat up. By 2016, some stores such as ACE Hardware discontinued carrying CFL bulbs in their stores.

By comparison, the Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) had an average life span of 50,000 hours. Some last twenty years or more. The annual operating cost for thirty bulbs was $32.85 compared to the $328.59 for the incandescent light bulbs. The LED bulbs come in a variety of shapes including A-line, decorative candle, flame, flood light, spot light, globe, and linear. The bulbs do not require time to heat up before producing light.

The cost of the bulbs is still high compared to the incandescent bulbs. For example, a box of four Phillips 60 Watt Equivalent Soft White A19 LED Light Bulbs is $9.97 online at Home Depot. A box of four Phillips 60 Watt Equivalent Daylight A19 LED Light Bulbs is $10.97 at Home Depot. Home Depot will ship your order to your home for free if the order is $45.00 or more.

The new LED light bulbs are available at Home Depot, WalMart, Target, Lowe’s, Sam’s Club, ACE, and many other stores. Watch the sale flyers for special deals.

—By Karen Centowski