Dakota Rural Action has a new energy initiative, Solarize South Dakota, to promote sustainability and self-sufficiency. This new program, launched yesterday, wants South Dakotans to start by doing their own home energy assessments, figuring out just how much energy all their light bulbs and appliances are using. That data will help South Dakotans figure out just how much they could save by investing in solar panels. Solarize South Dakota also offers to connect interested homeowners with solar-power consultants.
Even if you’re not up for making energy, Solarize South Dakota encourages you to save energy by replacing your old light bulbs with LED bulbs. What?! Didn’t we just switch to compact fluorescents? Ah, technology:
A typical LED uses a fraction of the wattage required to power a bright incandescent bulb, and this makes LEDs dramatically more cost-effective over the long run. A 12W LED that puts out 800 lumens of light (lumens are units of brightness for a light source — more on that in just a bit) will add about a buck and a half per year to your power bill if used for 3 hours a day at an energy rate of 11 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). Under those same parameters, a 60W incandescent bulb that puts out 880 lumens will cost about $7.50 per year. Multiply that by the total number of bulbs in your home, and you’re potentially looking at some pretty significant long-term savings.
LEDs are also rated to last for tens of thousands of hours, which can translate to decades of use. Compare that with the year or so you typically get out of an incandescent, and you can begin to see why so many people find these bulbs appealing. At a price of about $15, that 12W LED would pay for itself in 2.5 years, then keep on saving you money for years to come [Ry Crist, “Light Bulb Buying Guide,” CNET.com, 2014.10.02].
I just looked around my new upstairs: 21 light bulbs. I see a Sylvania LED bulb at Menards for $11. Buy 21 of those… $231, versus $37 for 21 Sylvania incandescents. Price difference: $194. CNET tells me I can save $6 per bulb on my electric bill per year. Multiply… that’s $126 a year. The LEDs would thus pay for themselves on energy savings alone within the first two years.
Incandescents are rated for 2,000 hours versus 25,000 for the LEDs. So if the incandescents would last two years, the LEDs would last 25 years. Now I’ll grant that a few bulbs will be lost to operator oopsies rather than aging out, so let’s assume that only 10 of those 21 LEDs survive their full rated lifespan. Over 25 years, I buy 11 replacement LEDs, making my total purchase price $352 and my total electricity price $788. That’s $1,140 to light my upstairs until 2040.
Over the same period, I would buy 252 incandescent light bulbs for $378 and pay $3,938 to light them. Total upstairs incandescent bill: $4,316. 25-year savings for going LED upstairs: $3,176. Add my main floor and basement, and I just might pay for my daughter’s law school books (President Chelsea Clinton has to have someone to appoint Chief Justice).
Whether you just want better light bulbs or want to run your whole farm on nuclear fusion, get in touch with DRA’s Solarize South Dakota!
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Madly Related: Supporters slightly outnumbered opponents, 28–24, at last night’s public comment session on the Keystone XL pipeline, hosted by the Public Utililities Commission in Pierre. Perhaps all the smoke from those Canadian prairie fires dimming our sun is part of TransCanada’s smokescreen to make us think we need to pipe their dirty oil instead of making our own power from clean sunshine.