If you consider the cost of using one 60W bulb in a lounge compared to say a three 40W candle fitment, based on 6 hours a day usage the cost is £11.18pa compared to £22.35pa. Then think about a typical kitchen which normally has a couple of spotlight fitments which may amount to say 6 bulbs at 50W and with 6 hours usage a day this will cost circa £56 pa. Multiply these costs up by the number of rooms and it's easy to see how the cost soon increases. Then there are the replacement costs of the bulbs, where typically a halogen spotlight or traditional bulb will last for 1,000 hours, meaning replacing at least once per year.
As householders we all want to reduce our outgoings and there is a way to reduce lighting costs, by using low energy bulbs. The advances in technology have meant that the range available has changed in the past few years from the long ugly compact fluorescent (CFL) to the attractive light emitting diode (LED) bulbs.
The CFL bulbs are widely available in DIY stores and many local council's give them away free to encourage households to move towards low energy bulbs but the design isn't the most pleasing to the eye. Typically a CFL bulb that emits the equivalent light of a 60W normal bayonet cap (BC) will be rated at 20W and last for 8,000 hours, but it's about 16cms in length with long looping tubes. If you then consider the cost of running this bulb, it amounts to £3.72pa if used for 6 hours per day and can be purchased at a cost of circa £2. Another associated problem with CFL's is the slow warm up time before getting to full light which can be as much as 5 minutes, however technology is improving this. There are now improvements in the design where you can buy micro & mini CFL's that use 10W of energy and are less than 10cms in length, making them more attractive to look at and consuming only £1.86pa of electricity.
Further advances in technology has now resulted in light bulbs being made from LED's in a variety of format's, encompassing GU10, Edison Screw spotlights and BC Candles. The real advantage of these is that they use minimal electricity, as low as 1W in some cases but the light output is not quite as high as normal bulbs at the moment and are ideally suited for general lighting in kitchens, hallways & stairs. If you take a typical 3W GU10 LED bulb, which emits light equivalent to 35W, using the example above of two light fitments containing 3 x 50W Halogen GU10 bulbs then the annual energy consumption amounts to just £3.30pa. As you can see this is a substantial saving and they can be purchased at a cost of £15 each. Therein lies the problem with LED bulbs at the moment as the price is prohibitive to most people when compared to a typical halogen bulb of £1.50. However, the life of these bulbs is circa 40,000 hours, meaning they probably only need replacing once every 30 years! Further development means that candle bulbs can now be replaced with LED ones, which only consume 1.7W's of energy compared to 40W. Again comparing the example above this means the energy usage would amount to just £1.13pa.
The final consideration is life cycle costs, which means taking the purchase cost coupled with the cost of energy consumed and spreading this over the useful life of the bulb, coming up with a cost per hour of use. If we take the two examples above we can compare the costs over normal, CFL & LED bulbs to determine the true running costs, as per the tables below:
Lounge(6 hrs/day) Normal CFL Micro Candles LED Candles
Total Wattage 60W 9W 120W 5W
Rated Life 1,000 8,000 1,000 30,000
Total Purchase Costs £0.60 £3.00 £2.20 £26.40
Energy Costs for life £5.10 £6.12 £10.20 £12.75
Total Life Cycle Costs £5.70 £9.12 £12.40 £39.15
Life Cost /1,000 hrs £5.70 £1.14 £12.40 £1.31
Annual Energy Cost £12.48 £1.68 £22.34 £0.93
Life of bulb 6 months 3.7 years 6 months 13.7 years
Kitchen(6 hrs/day) Halogen LED Bulb (GU10 x 3)
Total Wattage 150W 9W
Rated Life 1,000 40,000
Total Purchase Costs £4.50 £48.00
Energy Costs for life £12.75 £30.60
Total Life Cycle Costs £17.25 £78.60
Life Cost /1,000 hrs £17.25 £1.97
Annual Energy Cost £27.92 £1.68
Life of bulb 6 months 18.3 years
So in conclusion it is quite evident that although the purchase costs of LED bulbs are high, the energy consumption is extremely low so that the total costs are substantially better than traditional bulbs. On top of this they are more attractive than CFL's which to provide marginally better life cycle costs. Looking to the future, as more people make the move to LED bulbs the purchase costs will reduce and you can even see people taking these bulbs with them when they move house!
Find this article on LED Bulbs at Go Eco Store.