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A suggestion for the new year…

December 27, 2021

We recently bought a new refrigerator, for the usual reasons that people do. The new one has a digitally controlled compressor. That has two advantages. First, it is quiet. Second, its peak draw is 3 amps, rather than 7 amps.

That caught my interest because of how we power our house during power outages after hurricanes and other storms. I use a 2kW pure sine wave inverter, powered off our Prius. The refrigerator is the large and necessary load. The stovetop is gas, so we don’t need electricity to cook or boil drinking water. The old refrigerator sometimes tripped the inverter, when its compressor kicked on and presented a new 800 watt load, on top of whatever else we were running. It will be nice to cut that by more than half.

But what were those other draws, that a 800 watt spike would exceed 2,000 watts? There is all the digital stuff: laptops, chargers for phones and watches, modems, and routers. I suspect the larger draw was our lights. Our house still had quite a few incandescent bulbs. Those are 60 watts or 75 watts each, with some circuits having six bulbs. That quickly adds up.

So after getting the new refrigerator, I went through our house and methodically replaced the incandescents with LED bulbs. Those are now inexpensive. There are both dimmable and instant varieties, in any temperature. They have such long lives you might never replace them again. Their light is nicer, to my eyes. And they draw a seventh the power. That 360 watt circuit now is a 54 watt circuit.

While I did this to make our lives easier during power outages, it has the obvious advantage of lowering our power usage year round. Since that exercise, our weekly draw has varied from 35kWh to 64kWh, depending on how much heat we used. Our first full month electric bill was for 305kWh. Despite the fact our rates recently bumped up, that came to $42.

Well, one data point doesn’t mean much. The bill will double next August, when air conditioning dominates our use. Those caveats given, I believe the frequent claim that the power savings from an LED bulb pays for itself in a year or less. Having gone through the exercise, I encourage doing the whole house in a one sweep. Figure out what light temperature you want in different rooms. Decide where you need dimmables. Buy the bulbs in packs. Get out the ladder and get it done.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Douglas Rothkopf permalink
    December 27, 2021 10:18 am

    1. My high rise condo replaced all common area lights with LEDs at a considerable energy savings. I don’t have a run out about amortizing the cost basis.
    2 new closet lights and end table light come with a non replaceable LED. A trade off is the five year warranty- if you can save all those pieces of paper and the company is still in existence.

  2. Michael Grossberg permalink
    December 27, 2021 11:52 pm

    What a great idea. And the payoff is both greater security, during outages with your generator on, and long-term savings. (I did this for my home in 2014-2015 when I was gutting and renovating my kitchen, dining room and laundry room – and it both looks so much nicer and has saved me a lot. (The only problem were a few older sockets in my 1958 ranch home that were too small for the LEDS of six years ago, but there are more varieties and smaller now, so I eventually upgraded those, too.)

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