COMPARING COSTS

KEY

Lights account for 1/3 of all U.S. home energy bills, and 1/4 of the country’s total energy usage. Making a switch to a more efficient bulb could save both homeowners and the U.S. tons in emissions. How do they all stack up?

Traditional

Incandescent

CFL

Compact

Flourescent Light

LED

Light-emitting

diode

$10.00

$76.65

$328.59

60 watt

$32.85

$2.50

14 watt

$1.50

9.5 watt

WATTAGE USED

PER BULB

AVERAGE COST PER BULB

AVERAGE OPERATING COST (per year)

Although LED bulbs initially cost more, their operating cost is only a fraction of an incandescent’s. CFLs have comparable operating costs to the LED, but LEDs still win because of their lifespan. h

The less watts the better: the average cost of electricity in the U.S. per kiloWatthour is about 12 cents.

LEDs cost nearly ten times less to operate per year than the incandescents— and that’s not counting the extra bulbs you’d need to buy. (see below)

LIFE SPAN

OF THE BULB (in hours)

 

The TAKEAWAY

Although LED bulbs initially cost more, their operating cost per year is only a fraction of that of an incandescent’s. CFLs have comparable operating costs to the LED, but LEDs beat out the competition when looking at their lifespan. In the lifetime of an LED bulb, you would need to buy 32 incandescents in the same period of time.

1,200

8,000

50,000

ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS

Lights account for 1/3 of all U.S. home energy bills, and 1/4 of the country’s total energy usage. Making a switch to a more efficient bulb could save both homeowners and the U.S. tons in emissions. How do they all stack up?

HEAT EMITTED
(not converted into electricity)

4500

85 btu

1051

30 btu

451

3.4 btu

CARBON EMISSIONS (per year, in lbs)

90% of the energy incandescents use goes toward heat and is never converted to light, making them extremely inefficient. In terms of carbon emissions, LEDs let off just a tenth of the emissions of incandescents.

CAUTION

 

CFLs contain mercury, and are toxic if broken. They should be recycled only at designated sites.

The TAKEAWAY

 

LEDs are the clear winner in terms of using energy productively, with nearly all of their energy going to making light. Their carbon emissions put incandescents to shame. CFLs compare well, but lose points because they contain toxic mercury.

MAKING THE SWITCH

LEDs seem to be the right choice. But what exactly would a switch mean? How big of an impact would making the switch to LED bulbs have?

ENERGY USAGE MAPPED IN THE US
(in BTUs per year, per state)

TOP 5 USERS:

1. Wyoming, 949

 

2. Alaska, 873

 

3. Louisiana, 849

 

4. North Dakota, 788

 

5. Texas, 471

Current energy usage

Energy usage with a switch to LED Bulbs

Switching all bulbs to LEDs could lead to a nearly 70% reduction in total U.S. energy use, per state. This would also mean less carbon emissions and lower electricity bills— it’s a win-win.

This graphic was created using ai2html, courtesy of The New York Times. Map graphic coded in Processing using Java.

CREDITS: http://www.eia.gov/state/, http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/lighting-choices-save-you-money, http://www.designrecycleinc.com/led%20comp%20chart.html, http://eartheasy.com/live_energyeff_lighting.htm