Saving Money on Light Bulbs – a Bright Idea

by Guest Contributor · 5 comments

With the switch from incandescent to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, it seems as if prices are on the rise as well. That perception isn’t exactly accurate as CFLs last much longer and use less electricity than their incandescent counterparts, but the outlay is clearly more on a bulb per bulb basis. CFLs also pose a certain level of risk as they all contain mercury and must be disposed of properly to avoid contamination.

There are ways to save money when purchasing light bulbs, especially right now as the switch takes place. The interest in getting you to switch over has provided some excellent budget-boosting options.

Free Bulbs

Our local utility company offers free CFL bulbs every Wednesday. The promotion won’t last forever – and we are talking about one bulb each time – but if you are in the area where they are handing them out, why not avail yourself of a free light bulb? Free is definitely the cheapest way to go.

Large Packs

Everyone knows that purchasing larger packages has the potential to save money, but it still pays to do the math. You can find bulbs in single packs, twins, and truly large packs, so price them per bulb. The exception to the rule here is if you need only one bulb of a particular type. Purchasing six bulbs when you will only use one in a year or so isn’t sensible. It will take up space better used for other things.

Use Lower Wattage

In general, you will find that the lower the wattage, the cheaper the bulb. If you are lighting a chandelier with six bulbs, you should be just fine with six 40-watt bulbs instead of six 60-watt bulbs. If you are depending upon lower wattage or a single bulb, you may need to go with the maximum recommended. Play around with different combinations and see for yourself.

Consider LED

While the upfront cost of LED bulbs is still in the stratosphere, they last just about forever. It isn’t unusual to find bulbs rated for 30,000 hours or more. The catch is that you can expect to pay about $30-40 per bulb, and the light is pretty directional. That means it doesn’t spread out like an incandescent light will.

LEDs also use less energy, about half used by a CFL bulb, and that provides additional savings. Your best bet for these bulbs is to use them in hard-to-reach places so you don’t have to change them again for years and wait until the next generation of LED bulbs turns up in about two to three years – according to industry gurus.

Summing it All Up

At this point your best financial bet is CFL bulbs. Even with the potential hazards, they cost less to run and last longer than incandescent bulbs. While CFL bulbs don’t work well with dimmer switches, there is a movement to adapt them for such uses. Their slower start up time has yet to be addressed.

It is thought that CFL bulbs will be a stopgap measure until LED bulbs have worked out their kinks and prices come down. Eventually, you can expect to be switching to LED bulbs instead, but for now, the CFL bulbs should work well.

This is taken from the How to Save Money on Everything ebook. Remember to check it out for free when you sign up for the free frugal newsletter.

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  • LiamTheDream says:

    Be sure and switch off all lights in rooms that are not in use. It’s very easy to do.

  • yinnmed says:

    I believe that light bulbs has life span and lamination hours or how long it is supposed to produce light.

  • Mariano Corral Herranz says:

    Till now, I only had to replace once a CFL bulb. It was more than ten years old. They really last much more than incandescent, so it’s not adviseable to store many.

    • Paul says:

      And my experience has been the direct opposite of yours. I’ve had one incandescent bulb last over 20 years, and yes was an on/off bulb multiple times a day.

      I’ve had CFL’s blow in as little as 3 months. I’ve replaced about half with LED’s in recessed fitting in my lounge ceiling plus 5 in dining room chandelier and 1 over breakfast bar.

      Lounge lights have a lifetime guarantee. If they fail they will be replaced and the guarantee will carry on. The other bulbs are rated for 10 years and will be replaced if they fail in under 5 at no cost. What’s not to like. Even got cool white bulbs which makes it so much easier to see as well. Time to phase out that damned warm red lighting. Ruins eyesight it does.

  • Ken Blume says:

    I have been read there may be only 1 plant in the US that makes bulbs to the new standards. If that is true I do not like being totally dependent on foreign companies for all our light bulbs.

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