LED the way

Energy saving LED MR-16 in fixture

So, it’s not really the lightbulbs’ fault that anytime I hear reference to MR-16 bulbs, I remember one of the worst jokes imaginable.

OK, if you insist. It’s a dialog, and it goes like this:

MR ducks
MR not ducks
CDEDBD wings
MR ducks!

Yeah, I’m not sure why it’s a “joke” or, as with anything Jim Belushi does, what’s so funny. (“ZOMG! The letters sound like words!”) But both have stuck with me for, like, 20 years, so there’s that.

I cannot state for certain that that awful joke contributed to the fact that when one of the halogen bulbs burned out in out kitchen fixture a couple months back, I was ready to replace all 6 MR-16s in that fixture with LED equivalents. Finally the price had dipped to the point where it was feasible – even for the fancy dimmable LEDs. I know the right thing to do would be to continue using the remaining halogens until, one-by-one, they gave up the fight. But at some point there’s just no getting around admitting that my eyesight ain’t what it used to be, and even losing that 1/6th of available kitchen light was making me wonder how long all 10 fingers would avoid some godawful Chicago Cutlery finale.

I further rationalized the bulbs’ early retirement by vowing to donate them to the local Habitat for Humanity secondhand home-improvement shop.

But I did wonder, as I twisted in each of the new, even brighter, LEDs, how much energy I would actually save. Looking at wattage alone, it was clear that we’re now using less than 1/10th of what we were before. But what’s that translate to in dollars and junk? Hmm, let’s do some maths.

Well, OK, I actually did all the maths on a scrap piece of paper. See?:

LED vs. halogen energy use

I spared you all this, so you’re welcome. The cipherin’ is based on a lot of assumptions, such as:

  1. We use the light 3 hours a day (probably true).
  2. We’re looking at energy costs for the winter (true so far). Summer costs vary per the power company.
  3. We are getting the rate for the first 650 kilowatt hours — which is cheapest (I have no idea how many KwH we use a month).

At the bottom line (actually two lines in the picture, but whatevs), we’re spending 29 cents a month to light the kitchen, versus $1.25. At that clip, it’ll take us four years to recoup the $50 buy-in, but the LEDs should last 20,000 hours – or more than 19 years at our level of usage.

And even if they don’t make it 19 years, $50 is a small price to pay for keeping all 10 fingers intact. Since I’m being all mathy, that’s 20 fingers for the household, which works out to $2.50 per finger without even accounting for energy savings.


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