Friday, 25 May 2012

Incandescent vs. CFL vs. LED

I'm going to let my inner geek shine brightly in this post. Some would say, And how is this different than any other day? I might be inclined to agree. Ok...I confess...I am a geek!  Let me tell you why I bring this to light.

As I mentioned in the last post, we have our house in the city, Casa Smalla, up for sale. The Open House is something we all know and understand about this process. So while we were enjoying the beautiful long weekend at a friend's cottage in Georgian Bay, the real estate agent was enjoying some of the weekend weather at our house, two days in a row. Poor fella. You're wondering where I'm going with this, I can feel it.

To prepare Casa Smalla for the 2-hour open house, our agent turns on all the lights in the house and opens the big folding door that looks out over the garden. Then he's ready to handle the onslaught of tire kickers.

Did I mention that the agent turns on all the lights in the house?

So here's where I get my geek on. Burlington Hydro has a Time-of-Use (TOU) website that customers can go to to see when and how much electricity they are using. All very useful to help manage the new higher electricity prices and times, if you care about that kind of thing. I wouldn't have cared about all this 2 years ago. I would have just ranted about the outrageous amounts of electricity this little house (or maybe its occupants?) consumed and left it at that. But since the most important thing about living in an off-grid house is minimizing electricity usage we are now in the training stage of minimizing. Hence my obsession with the kilowatt, or rather killing-a-watt.

Approx. 0.2 kWh hourly to run the things that are always on, such as a fridge.
Usage jumps to 3 kWh hourly when lots of lights are on...yikes!

A quick look at the bar chart from the Burlington Hydro TOU site makes it very obvious how much electricity just the lighting in our house uses. It's also very easy to tell that the real estate agent was, in fact at our house on Sunday with every light in the house on, while we were soaking up the sun in Georgian Bay. That's the only explanation for the huge spike you see in the chart...all the lights being on. Who knew? I was a little shocked to see such a crazy exaggerated chart pattern. 
4 incandescents use more energy in 1 hour than 8 CFLs or 6 LEDs.
All 3 rooms have a similar level of brightness even though the number
of bulbs varies. The hour the LEDs were on barely even registered
any extra electricity usage.

Sleepless nights for me can lead to some odd early morning experiments. So my latest sleepless night was when I got this weird idea to show the difference in electricity usage each type of light bulb causes. By turning a different room's lights on, each for 1-hour over the 3-hour time frame, I could show that all the hype about changing our light bulbs from incandescent to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED is, in fact, a worthy exercise. The second chart shows the extra hourly electricity usage, beginning with the spike at 4am, of a room that has four 75 watt pot lights. At 5am the 75's were shut off and a room with eight 13 watt CFL pot lights was illuminated. At 6am, the 13's were shut off and a room with six 4 watt LED pot lights was illuminated for one hour. I warned you I was getting my geek on for this post! At this point I'm pretty sure I only have two readers still with me and the rest...well, your eyes have glazed over, haven't they? So a shout out to you, Diane G, and you, Tina L, for sticking with me to the end of this post. You're the only two I can think of that would find this as oddly intriguing as I do.

Why am I telling you this, you ask? I had to write about something while I wait for the composting toilet to show up! Without that, I cannot finish building the outhouse and therefore I have nothing new to report. And I must write! point - light bulbs do indeed make a big difference and I thought you'd like to know just how much. Incandescent lighting can be the single biggest user of energy, apart from clothes dryers and air conditioning, in your home depending on how many and how long said lighting remains on in your home on a daily basis. The rooms we use the most are the rooms with the CFLs and the LEDs. That room with the 75w incandescents...we hardly ever use but apparently the real estate agent does! Note to self: change all remaining incandescents to at least CFLs, if for no other reason than open houses!

Conclusion (I can hear the cheering now), LEDs, although they cost more per bulb, last way longer than either CFLs or incandescents. LEDs use way less electricity than the others as well. And LEDs are less fragile and less harmful to the environment. Here is a chart that summarizes everything you ever wanted to know about light bulb comparison. And, no, I have not taken a sales position with an LED lighting company! Just doing my part to help the environment, and maybe your electricity bill.

Cheers from your friendly LED (Lame Energy Dork)


donna said...

now what happened with the open house. so much info to go over i forgot about the open house until
much later

Mimi said...

Hey Donna, I believe there will be more open houses in the near future. I better get on with changing those light bulbs! Thanks for reading.

Alannah said...

Alannah and Treena says that you are funnier than ELLEN and we both read it right to the end. Well I, Treena, was beginning to glaze over until I got to the comment about only two left and I thought, no way, I am going to read the whole dang thing.
Love your work!!!!

Mimi said... that's being funnier than Ellen. I figured a little humor was the only way to keep folks reading this particular post. At least it worked on Treen. Thanks for reading girls! When will there be a blog about your off grid odyssey?

Doris said...

Well my heavens, you really ARE a geek Marilynn! Good news: I love geeks. In fact, I'm married to one. Very handy.

I love this post and I want to thank you for doing my homework for me. I've been meaning to do the very same thing you did except that I never seem to be awake and bored at 4 am. Seriously, 4 am?! You need more sleep girl.

The chart you provide is very useful but it's missing a key piece of information: the cost to buy, unless that's wrapped into the usage cost/year. Not clear to me. But either way, incandescent bulbs are evil re: power usage.

I must say that CFLs aren't much better on a user level. It makes me mental to have to wait a couple of seconds when you flip on the light switch, usually with hands full and kids' stuff just waiting to send you into a dive. Or you answer the door to let guests in, turn on the switch, open the door and wait for the light to come on. Dramatic but irritating.

So I think you've finally convinced me to shell out the cash for LEDs. Well done!

If I have any more pressing questions, can I sent them to you for further research at 4am?

Anonymous said...

so funny!!! and fascinating till the very end!

Mimi said...

Hi Doris, I must confess the comparison chart is not my creation. I was impressed to find someone else had done the homework I had been meaning to do myself. Anyway, here is a website for the purchase of good quality LEDs. I have ordered from them and was very happy with the speed of shipping and the quality of the product. Free shipping when your order totals $199. That wasn't hard to achieve when buying a dozen halogen replacements.

Holly said...

I read the whole thing too.

Georgian Bay Real Estate said...

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