I try to be pretty careful about making my home energy efficient. I've weatherstripped, insulated, caulked and replaced my incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents as they burn out.
I was talking to Ameren Illinois Utilities spokesman Leigh Morris yesterday, and he told me that CFLs generally save consumers $5 per year per bulb. I told him that I replace my bulbs as they burn out, because throwing away perfectly good bulbs feels wasteful.
He quickly convinced me otherwise.
"Each CFL bulb will save you $5 a year in electric costs," Morris told me. That means if a homeowner installs 20 CFLs, they'll save $100 a year, he said. "Today, there's a CFL available for almost every application."
They last a long time, too. Morris told me he's installed a few in the late '90s (yes, more than 10 years ago) he's yet to replace.
So I went home and started switching light bulbs (which are actually called lamps, Morris informed me, not bulbs). Many of my fixtures took the regular, standard-sized CFL bulbs. But I did make a trip to a home-improvement store to buy special bulbs to fit in my living- and dining-room fixtures, as well as the rounded bulbs that light my bathroom vanity.
The specialty bulbs - especially the dimmable ones to fit in the dining-room fixture - were a little pricey. My 10 bulbs averaged about $6.50 each, which felt like a lot to be spending on light bulbs. But they should pay for themselves in a little over a year - and will continue to save me money, especially if they last as long as Morris'.
Actually changing 18 light bulbs around my house was pretty simple. A few switches required a screwdriver and ladder, but it also gave me a chance to clean the dusty, dirty glass globes from some fixtures. Overall, it's one of the easiest energy-saving measures I've done - much easier than insulating the attic, which I completed earlier this year with help.
And I can't really tell a difference. Many of the bulbs don't require a warm-up time, although the dimmable lights are a bit iffy when it actually comes to lowering the lights. But you'd never know the round, frosted bulbs in my bathroom are CFLs. And I'm really looking forward to seeing how switching my bulbs affects my next electricity bill.