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Compact Fluorescent Bulbs — What Are The Actual Savings?

By Terry O'Reilly

I’m sure you’ve been told that using more efficient light bulbs can add up to substantial monthly savings on your power bills — maybe you are sick of hearing about it! If you are doubting the real world saving that you can expect from using energy efficient lighting, this simple formula will help you to figure it out very accurately.

To figure out the cost of running your current halogen or incandescent bulbs all you require is the wattage of the bulbs, the price you’re paying per kilowatt hour (see your power bill), and a calculator. The following model illustrates the method so that you can see how to make this calculation for your house.

(“Kwh” is Kilowatt hours.)

Watts x hours/day = watts/day.

Watts used each day divided by 1000 = Kwh used each day.

Kwh used each day x 30 = total Kwh used each month.

Monthly Kwh x $ per Kwh = monthly cost.

Let’s use this calculation on the example of a 100 watt incandescent or halogen bulb. For this calculation we’ll suppose that it’s in your family room or living room and that the bulb is lit roughly 10 hours each day. (That estimate may seem high, but it isn’t. A lot of lights are on more than an average of 10 hours per day, especially in winter.). For this illustration we will imagine that you’re paying $.12 per Kwh for your electricity, which may be conservative depending where you live. The rate you pay for your power is shown on the statement you receive each month from the power company.

A 100 watt bulb burning for 10 hours = 1000 watts.

1000 watts per day = 1 Kwh per day.

1 Kwh/day x 30 days = 30 Kwh/month

$.12 x 30 Kwh = $3.60 monthly. That is your cost to run ONE bulb.

This simple calculation will also show us what the real cost of running a compact fluorescent bulb would be, and how much you would save each month. A 23 watt compact fluorescent will substitute for a 100 watt incandescent (if changing from halogen lights you might need a 25 or 27 watt bulb).

10 hours times 23 watts = 230 watts daily.

230 watts divided by 1000 = .23 kilowatt hours per day.

30 days multiplied by 0.23 Kwh = total of 6.9 Kwh.

6.9 Kwh times $.12 = Total cost of $.83 monthly. Your monthly saving for a single light bulb would be $2.77, which is equal to 77%.

You could easily achieve a total saving of $27.70 monthly by switching ten 100 watt fixtures over to energy efficient bulbs.

Using this calculation it is simple to find the real savings you would achieve by taking out your halogen or incandescent bulbs and putting in a suitable equivalent in compact fluorescent lighting. Energy efficient bulbs are now available in a great variety of styles, as well as with different bases to fit a number of lighting fixtures, so it’s not hard to convert over. Also, many compact fluorescent bulbs are now available in versions that will work on a dimmer switch, and you can replace your outdoor bulbs as well because they come in heavy duty styles.

It is a fact that these bulbs cost more up front. The added expense will not eat all your savings, though; apart from the decreased power costs, compact fluorescent bulbs will typically have a much better lifespan than halogen or incandescent bulbs. Changing your bulbs gradually, two or three at a time, will decrease the up front expense; your savings will cover the outlay.

KEEP your receipts, because the compact fluorescent bulbs usually have a substantial warranty. Since you’ll never remember which bulbs were put in any given room, keep a brief record on your receipt or the package and then it will be simple to find the right one if a bulb does fail during the warranty.

Changing over to more economical lighting is a good way to start reducing your energy bills, and you can find many ideas on saving energy at the Energy Resources Journal.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
O'Reilly, Terry "Compact Fluorescent Bulbs — What Are The Actual Savings?." Compact Fluorescent Bulbs — What Are The Actual Savings?. 24 Jun. 2010. 22 Sep 2015 <>.

APA Style Citation:
O'Reilly, T (2010, June 24). Compact Fluorescent Bulbs — What Are The Actual Savings?. Retrieved September 22, 2015, from

Chicago Style Citation:
O'Reilly, Terry "Compact Fluorescent Bulbs — What Are The Actual Savings?"

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