How Long Does It Take LED Lights To Pay For Themselves?

LED lights generally pay for themselves through electricity bill savings in less than a year, with higher brightness replacements paying for themselves even faster.

In this article I going to show you exactly how LED lights pay for themselves and convince you that it’s actually worth going out and buying new LED lights today vs waiting another year.

How Much Do Regular (Incandescent) Light Bulbs Cost To Run

Working out how much light bulbs cost to run is actually pretty simple once you know how to do it.

Electricity costs the same whether you are using incandescent bulbs or LED lights. Electricity companies generally charge you per kWh of electricity used.

A kWh (kilo Watt hour) is using 1,000 watts of energy for 1 hour. This could be a 1 Watt bulb for 1,000 hours or a 1,000 Watt bulb (I don’t know if these even exist) for just 1 hour.

Incandescent bulbs usually come in the following brightnesses based off their Wattage.

40W, 60W, 90W/100W

Costs for electricity in the US vary considerably. From as much as 29.39c in Hawaii to as little as 9.27c in Washington (according to the EIA).

To make things easy I’ll just be looking at the US average of 12.82c/kWh. If your electricity costs less the LED lights will take longer to pay themselves off, if your electricity costs more then they will pay themselves off even faster.

How To Work Out How Quickly LED Lights Will Pay For Themselves

LED lights pay for themselves in electrical savings (aka. Electricity you didn’t use that you would have otherwise). So first we need to work out how much they will save us.

LED lights have equivalents to regular lights which makes our job easier.

Regular Globe (W) Equiv. LED Globe (W) Savings
40W 7W 33W
60W 9W 51W
100W 13W 87W

[insert table here]

Next we need to look at how much new LED lights cost and how much we save per hour of usage.

This will tell us how many hours of usage it will take for the LED lights to save us more in electricity costs than what we actually paid for them.

For your convenience I’ll provide direct links to buy the LED lights on Amazon (affiliate links…thanks).

LED Globes Globe Cost Hours To Pay Off Globe Days To Pay Off If Used 4 Hours/Day Days To Pay Off If Used 8 Hours/Day Days To Pay Off If Used 24 Hours/Day
7W
(40W Equiv.)
$4.49
Buy on Amazon
1,061 265 133 44
9W
(60W Equiv.)
$5.99
Buy on Amazon
916 229 115 38
13W
(100W Equiv.)
$5.99
Buy on Amazon
537 134 67 22

Most households will use their lights for roughly 4 hours/day with some using them more and some using them less.

For us our kitchen lights get much more than 4 hours/day while our outdoor lights see very little usage. But overall I think this is a good figure to use.

As you can see all the globes paid for themselves in less than a year.

7W paid for itself in less than 9 months

9W paid for itself in less than 8 months and the

13W paid for itself in less than 5 months

This means buying LED globes is likely going to give you a much better return than the stock market. Earning over 100% of their cost (in savings) each year.

If you have a light that is going to be on 100% of the time for some reason then an LED will pay for itself sometimes in under 1 month! This is incredible.

Only problem is there is a limit to how much you can save because there is a limit to how many lights you have in your house.

What About Cheaper/More Expensive Electricity?

The time it takes for an LED to pay for itself changes based on what you pay for electricity. The above examples used the US average of $0.1282/kWh.

However depending on your area electricity may be cheaper or more expensive.

Let’s take the time to look at the cheapest rate of electricity in the country as well as the most expensive.

CHEAPEST: Washington – $0.0927/kWh

LED Globes Globe Cost Hours To Pay Off Globe Days To Pay Off If Used 4 Hours/Day
7W
(40W Equiv.)
$4.49
Buy on Amazon
1,468 367
9W
(60W Equiv.)
$5.99
Buy on Amazon
1,267 317
13W
(100W Equiv.)
$5.99
Buy on Amazon
743 186

MOST EXPENSIVE: Hawaii – $0.2939/kWh

LED Globes Globe Cost Hours To Pay Off Globe Days To Pay Off If Used 4 Hours/Day
7W
(40W Equiv.)
$4.49
Buy on Amazon
463 116
9W
(60W Equiv.)
$5.99
Buy on Amazon
400 100
13W
(100W Equiv.)
$5.99
Buy on Amazon
234 59

As you can see:

The cheaper your electricity the long it takes LED lights to pay for themselves. The more expensive your electricity the faster they pay for themselves.

Even with the cheapest electricity in the country Washington residents would still cover the cost of their new LED lights in less than a year (with the exception of the 7W globe which paid for itself in 1 year 2 days).

How Much CO2 Emissions Can You Save?

Saving CO2 emissions is really important to me.

I have previously looked at CO2 emissions per kWh of electricity and found that each kWh of electricity creates 0.94 kg or 2.07 lbs of CO2.

LED Globes CO2 Saved Per Hour Carbon Saved Per Year If Used 4 Hours Per Day Carbon Saved Per Year If Used 24 Hours Per Day
7W
(40W Equiv.)
0.031 kg or
0.068 lbs
45.29 kg or
99.73 lbs
271.74 kg or
598.40 lbs
9W
(60W Equiv.)
0.048 kg or
0.106 lbs
69.99 kg or
154.13 lbs
419.95 kg or
924.79 lbs
13W
(100W Equiv.)
0.082 kg or
0.180 lbs
119.40 kg or
262.93 lbs
716.39 kg or
1,577.59 lbs

As you can see a single LED light globe used at an expected rate of 4 hours per day can save 45-119 kg (99-262 lbs) of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere each year.

Most people have way more than 1 light in their house so the effects compound.

I personally have 14 lights in my house and will be saving over half a tonne of CO2 emissions per year because of my change to LED lights.

It saves you money and it saves the environment. I implore you to stop waiting and instead take action now to replace your old lights with the more energy efficient LED lights.

One comment

  1. Hi I love the article and I just replaced 7 Chandelier bulbs and 10 regular size (or Kitchen, Washroom, Bedroom , & Living Room bulbs). And thought maybe we should add that not only do these lights pay for them selves in about a year but they also last much longer (I’ve read 50x longer). Not only that but they produce much less heat. I can keep my 1 bedroom apt quite cool until at least 5:00pm when it’s 27c-32c outside. How about an article on keeping an apartment cool instead of air conditioning as there are many tricks, like stuffing a towel under the door if a person is home during the day to keep hot air out and cool air in. Or using a 27″monitor for computer and TV instead of a 51″ TV as it produces much less heat.

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