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How long does it take to payback replacing filament light bulbs?

compare filament lightbulb to compact fluorescent lamp Question: What is the payback for replacing a single 100W filament light bulb, with an 20W energy saver with the same light output?

Answer: Energy saver bulbs use about 5 times less energy than a filament bulb and last about 5 times longer, but they are more expensive. Payback varies and depends upon how much you use the bulb, an expensive bulb used for just a few hours a day may not be worth replacing on purely financial grounds, but in most cases changing light bulbs to energy savers will save you a lot of money. The tables below shows the payback time for a cheap and a more expensive energy saver bulb for various use times per day, base only on electricity use. It is worth noting that over the lifetime of an energy saver (about 5 years) you will also use about 5 filament bulb costing about 40pence each.

comment on how much saved with lots of bulbs

Payback for replacing a single 100W filament light bulb, with an 20W energy saver.
Use Per Day Difference in running cost per year between filament bulb and energy saver Payback time if the new energy saver costs £ 2 Payback time if the new energy saver costs £ 4
6 hours £ 32.73 each year 22 days 45 days
12 hours £ 65.45 each year 11 days 22 days
18 hours £ 98.36 each year 7 days 15 days
24 hours £ 131.09 each year 6 days 11 days
For those interested the the energy use each year is as follows:-
Use Per Day Filament Bulb Energy Saver Differnce in Energy Use
6 hours 219 kWh per year 44 kWh per year 175 kWh per year
12 hours 438 kWh per year 88 KWh per year 350 kWh per year
18 hours 657 kWh per year 131 kWh per year 526 kWh per year
24 hours 876 kWh per year 175 kWh per year 701 kWh per year

There is also a persistent myth with energy savers that you should leave them running because it takes so much energy to get them started, this is not true, please read more on this.

Read more on this myth...

Some notes on this page

  • Payback is calculated by assuming that you scrap the old bulb so only the cost of the energy saver is considered. It could also be argued that you should include the cost of 5 filament bulbs in this calculation as they last no where near as long as energy saver bulbs.
  • KWh is a unit of electrical enegy it stands for kilowatt hours.
  • A watt is a unit of electrical power.

Comments and Questions

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a quick tip - quicktip  2013-01-16 17:57:06
hi i think you can also save a lot more extra as well if you switch a light on or off a little bit slower. eg if you quickly "hit" the on switch (at 100% of the speed) you might catch the a/c cycle when its very low and suddenly spike it causing the light to surge and blow. but if you do it firmly (at about 75% of the speed) it can help smooth off the a/c cycle curve and you'll have less blowouts = less bulbs to buy and replace, because you wont get much saving if you have to keep buying bulbs.. (just dont do it too slowly or you'll flicker the light between on and off which isnt good)
Low energy light bulbs, you won`t save as much energy as you`d think....... - Justin Smith  2012-03-06 09:45:06
I like your site sufficiently to put a link to it from mine !However, I don`t fully agree with your figures on the energy savings from swapping to low energy bulbs. Basically, whenever you`ve got the heating on in your house, which is much of the year in this country, old style bulbs are 100% efficient because they heat up your house with their inefficient energy use. As I write this it`s zero degrees outside so any incandescent bulbs I have are working at 100% efficiency ! On the other hand, I agree low energy bulbs are much more efficient in the summer, or in a warmer country.....http://www.aerialsandtv.com/tvrepairs.html#100WBulbs
Low energy light bulbs, you won`t save as much energy as you`d think....... - Richard  2012-03-06 14:10:12
Hi Justin Thanks for the comments. Whilst what you say is technically correct in the cold months, electrically heating a house in anyway is very costly (3 to 4 time more than gas). So using the heat of a light bulb to heat your house makes little practical sense. Also where is the heat, it is usually at ceiling height, convection will bring some back down to your cold feet, but much will be lost. In very hot counties they will also put the AC on get rid of the excess heat partly from the bulbs. One could also include the heat dissipated from energy savers in a calculation and the cost differential between this and the substitution of heat generated by a filament bulb and the cost of heat in gas powered centrally heated house.........errrr perhaps not! cheers Richard Add new comment
Maths error? - Richard Wendland  2009-05-04 17:05:21
Richard, aren't you out by a factor of 10 in these calculations? e.g. you say 6 hours/day of a 100w Filament Bulb uses "21.9 kWh per year". But I make it 219 kWh per year: 6 * 100 * 365 / 1000 = 219 Just a rough in-head calc of about half a kWh per day for a year gives around 182 kWh/year. Likewise for 6 hour/day use you have running cost saving of "£ 2.07 each year". But I make that about £21 savings/year: 6 * 80 * 365 / 1000 * 0.12 = 21.02 Also in your payback time you don't seem to allow for the price of the filament bulb. With 7 times the life an energy saver bulb at £2 is about the same cost as the 7 Filament Bulbs used over the same period. Nowadays energy saving bulbs are pretty much money savers now for any suitable regularly used lightbulb. Richard
Maths error confirmed! - Richard  2009-05-05 17:25:10
Cheers Richard This is where I go , "No looks fine to me!" But only because I have changed it! My off line spreadsheets were right but there was a function error in the scripts, thanks for spotting it, please shout if you find any more on the site, much appreciated Richard
Maths error confirmed - Richard  2009-05-05 17:27:18
forgot to mention the cost of the extra filaments is not in the calc, but is mentioned in passing in the text, think I should add it?