Homeowner calculates big LED bulb payoff

A retiree figures his new lights will save him more than $8,000 over their lifetime.



Dave Lippert holds LED lights by Viribright that he has installed in his Ohio home.


JACKSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Would you jump at an opportunity to turn $975 into more than $8,000?

Dave Lippert did. And he thinks you should, too.

A year and a half ago, Lippert replaced most of the light bulbs in his home with energy-saving LED bulbs, and he has tracked his energy savings ever since. By his calculations, he will have saved enough on his electric bill by April 2015 to recoup the $975 he paid for the bulbs. And over their lifetime, he figures, those bulbs will save $8,186 in electricity costs in today's dollars.

Lippert embarked on his study to amass the hard evidence he needed to convince friends and family members that efficient lighting saves real money.

His intense interest isn't surprising. He's a retiree from the electric utility industry and a details person by nature.

Around 2010 or 2011, Lippert's interest in energy savings led him to start thinking about replacing his incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs with LED versions, but big box stores didn't sell LED bulbs that met all his needs. He found Viribright Lighting Inc. on the Internet, liked what he saw in its catalog and, with the help of some of its staff, purchased enough bulbs for almost all the lamps and light fixtures in his 2,400-square-foot house. The only exceptions were lights for which he couldn't get LED replacements or that don't use LED bulbs, such as a few fixtures that use clear candelabra bulbs or fluorescent tubes.

In all, he replaced lighting that used 3,656 watts of electricity with 638 watts' worth of LED bulbs, all of them dimmable. And he did something else: He purposely avoided adding or subtracting any electrical device in the house for a year to add some measure of control to his study.

"There's nothing we did different, because I was trying to isolate it (the difference in energy use) to the light bulbs," he said.

Then he started watching the energy savings roll in.

In one year, the Lipperts reduced their electricity use nearly 19 percent, from 12,590 killowatt-hours to 10,217.

Because Lippert locked into a lower electric rate during that time, their spending on electricity dropped more than 25 percent, from $1,599.03 to $1,190.75. That's an annual saving of $408.26 and an annual rate of return on his investment of 41.87 percent, he calculated.

Lippert figured the lights in his house are typically on an average of 3.4 hours a day, so those LED bulbs should last a little more than 20 years if they live up to their claim to keep burning for 25,000 hours. So based on his costs during the one-year study, he calculated he would save $8,186 in electricity over the life of the bulbs.

Actually, the saving may be even greater. When he figures in the results from the months since his one-year study ended, his energy savings increase even more, to about $445 on an annualized basis.

Lippert doesn't recommend everyone follow his lead and change all their lighting at once.

For most people, he said, it makes more sense to replace bulbs one by one, as the less efficient bulbs burn out.

But Lippert is 75 and didn't want to wait.

"I wanted to be able to show results," he said. "I couldn't show results one bulb at a time."

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