Frugal Living 

Money Saved Using Compact Flourescent Bulbs

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In a recent trip to Costco, I saw a four-pack of 100-Watt replacement Compact Flourescent bulbs for $9 and an eight-pack of 60-Watt replacement compact flourescent bulbs for something like $12. The 100-Watt replacement bulbs claimed to use a mere 23-Watts, output 1,600 lumens, and have an average life of 10,000 hours. I’m not entirely sure about the 60-Watt replacement compact flourescent bulbs because I didn’t buy them. Assuming you kept one bulb on for 8 hours a day, paid $0.0676215/kWh (what we pay to BG&E for electricity), then you would expect to save $15.21 per bulb per year. When the bulbs themselves cost approximately $2.25 a piece, compact flourescent bulbs seem to be the way to go.

Also, the compact flourescent bulbs allegedly last a total of 10,000 hours compared to a standard 100-watt bulb’s average lifespan of 750 hours. Unless you could find a regular light bulb for 17 cents, based on lifespan alone the compact flourescent bulb is a better buy.

Brief calculations:
Operational cost of a regular light bulb: (100-Watts x 8 hours x 365 days)/1000 x $0.0676215 = $19.75
Operational cost of a compact flourescent light bulb: (23-Watts x 8 hours x 365 days)/1000 x $0.0676215 = $4.54
Difference: $15.21/yr

The difference in the price per hour is approximately half a cent ($0.0052), so if you estimate how many hours a day you keep your lights on you can figure out a rough estimate as to how much money you’d save switching to compact flourescent light bulbs.

Some complain about the “whiteness” of compact flourescent bulbs but honestly I don’t really care or notice. They do take a few seconds (half a minute perhaps) to “warm up” and get as bright as advertised, which also doesn’t bother me either. $15 a year per bulb doesn’t seem like a lot but why spend it if you don’t need to?

Here’s an example of the types of bulbs I use, Sylvania 29490 23-Watt CFL Mini Twist, Soft White, 6-Pack. Don’t buy it from Amazon though, you can get them much cheaper from Costco or even Home Depot.

[Edit: I messed up, I’ve been using compact flourescent bulbs, not halogen bulbs. I changed all instances of ‘halogen’ with ‘compact flourescent’ in the original article.]

{ 18 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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18 Responses to “Money Saved Using Compact Flourescent Bulbs”

  1. ck says:

    The picture you show is of a compact fluorescent bulb, not halogen. And based on your calculations, I assume that all the bulbs referred to in your article are also compact fluorescent. Halogen lights do not offer such a significant energy savings vs. incandescent. No argument with your conclusion though.

  2. Based on my experience, compact fluorescent bulbs are best used in places where the light won’t get flipped on and off a lot. While these bulbs can run a long time, regular on/off cycles where them out much faster. Best to use them in places where they’ll be left on.


    • echidnina says:

      That’s true, and the time it takes for them to warm up can also be annoying if you’re impatient (like me). I’m always in the habit of turning the lights off when I’m out of the room, and turning them back on when I come back, which might not be the best way to go about it with these bulbs.

    • cdiver says:

      Some brands warm up much faster than others. It is annoying when you are waiting in the dark for the level to come up.

  3. jim says:

    CK – You’re right! Hahaha, for some reason I got it into my head that it was halogen. Whoops, I fixed it but that’s for pointed it out.

  4. mbhunter says:

    Also depending on the kind of fixtures you have you may be able to get by with some cheaper CF bulbs. These aren’t coiled; they’re straight with a single loop. We got a few on sale at Ikea for $1 apiece. They don’t fit in some fixtures because they’re too long, though.

    • echidnina says:

      I love the Ikea CF bulbs! I got a whole bunch when I saw them so cheap. I put one in our main hallway light, which is on whenever we’re up in the evening (so the light tends to burn out quickly), and it’s lasted forever so far.

  5. denon says:

    After using several dozen of these bulbs, we’ve found the average lifespan of them to not be a whole lot longer than a good quality incandescent. This seems to be true especially of the bargain basement fluorescents, but also the higher quality ones. Now, I realize most of them have a 2 million year warranty, but did you save the receipt/packaging/etc?

    IMHO, they’re not worth the initial cost difference, not to mention it’s mildly irritating how some brands flicker when they power up, and others take a good minute or two for the light color to warm up to normal.

  6. Dus10 says:

    At $15/year per bulb… wow, that is a pretty quick ROI. I think they would work well in my situation. I always run around the house turning lights off… however, I am rarely home to monitor this. Working full-time and going to school full-time really keep me away from the house. I think this has a great potential to save some money. I may try an experiment to see the impact of changing just one of these in a room that has little natural light, the laudry room. Most of my house has decent natural light, so we do not use the lights very often. The only two rooms that get decent natural lighting but still get plenty of usage from our lightbulbs would be our kitchen and my home office. Beyond that, when there is not natural light in the bedrooms, we are usually sleeping or not using the room. So, the laundry room light is probably on the most, but is only one bulb. Next up would probably be the kitchen, because it has six bulbs. The bathrooms probably get more usage, but have less bulbs at 3 a piece. Finally, my home office would be last, as it has one bulb and is not used all that often when there is little natural light. So, I am looking at 14 bulbs, until I finish the half-bath, then we will 17. Basically, as soon as the billing cycle is over, I will change the bulb for the laundry room, then I will observe the difference on the bill. I have a feeling that I will only save about $8/year, but hey, that is $8 that I would have spent. That is the cost of two “buy” transactions on Sharebuilder. The kitchen may have a larger impact because of the number of bulbs, and may come in at about $20/year. But, that is all speculation, as I do not even know how many hours a month they are on… not even in the ballpark, really.

  7. jim says:

    The bulbs are ideal in rooms where you will want light but don’t necessarily “notice it” such as when you’re at the computer or watching TV. You want light but not necessarily a ton of light and you don’t really care or notice how much.

    What takes a little getting used to is the delay and the initial dimness. For the split second after you switch it on, sometimes you wonder if the bulb has died because it takes maybe a quarter second to turn on. Then the initial dimness is a little disconcerting but if you’ve been watching a movie, sometimes starting off dim is very nice because it’s not as shocking.

  8. Veronica Casale says:

    Would someone please explain how to use overhead flourescent lights properly.

    We have two overhead tubes in the kitchen. Does it really matter if you turn them on and off like a regular light?

    What is the cost difference to turn it on and off like a regular light vs. keeping it on.

    Does the ballast burn out faster by turning it on and off with each use?

    Once the flourescent light is on is it cheaper to keep it on? WHY?

  9. Paul Bibb says:

    Is it true that you can get compact flourescent bulbs at Costco or home depot for $1.50 apiece? I bought a lot of 100 on ebay for $150.00 cause they advertized that retail price was around $6.00 and up.

  10. jim says:

    Paul – Unfortunately yes, you can get them for pretty cheap now (~$1.50) a piece from a lot of places like Costco, Home Depot, and even WalMart.

  11. Veronica Casale says:

    To answer my own question about how to use overhead flourescent lights, our handyman says to go ahead and turn them off and on like regular lights unless they will be on for hours and hours. It doesn’t make much difference otherwise.

  12. v. musre says:

    i changed all our lights to compact flourescent bulbs, and even with the rate increases, our bill has stayed more or less the same. and i don’t have to worry about turning lights off and on!

  13. Rich says:

    I have flourescent tubes in my basement. They are not all that old but are not burning brightly. So…how do you know when they are shot? Unlike a regular bulb that blows out, these seem to be dying a slow death. I put a new bulb in and it didn’t come up brightly. Do I have to replace both sides?

    Also, I remember that my dad had these as a kid and there was a silver two pronged “plug” that went into the fixture that seemed to be the culprit and not the bulbs. He would replace that and, voila! we had light again. I took my balast apart but don’t see one. Have they been obviated by newer technology?


  14. vicky says:

    does any one knows what apositive lighting is?

  15. ganghuiled says:

    LED lights will be the best choice for you if you want to buy ligts.
    Why I do so,now let me give you a example why I would personally go for 240 watts over 1000.If I use led for a 24 hour diner with a sign burning 24 hours a day.The 100 watt bulb would use 2400 watts of electricity a day,but the 24 watt LED bulb would only use 480 watts and gives a much brighter glow. So it can help you save many money.

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