If you leave (1) 60W incandescent light bulb on 24/7 for 30 days, you would spend over $5 on just that one light bulb (assuming the US average of 12 cents per kilowatt hour).
If you live in Hawaii where electricity costs 28 cents per kilowatt hour, you would spend $12 per month on just that one light bulb.
Now if your kids are like mine, they sometimes have trouble remembering to turn off the lights, so you might be paying for way more electricity than you actually need.
Here are my 3 tips to pay for only as much electricity as necessary for your lighting needs:
1. Remind your kids to turn off the lights.
This is the cheap option, but the least automatic. We make a game out of it and encourage our 2-year-old to move his step stool around the house and turn the lights off. We did the same with our 8 and 5-year-old when they were little. They are both pretty good at remembering, but it is by no means 100% automatic.
Create reminders to turn off the lights. Set a reminder on your phone to check the lights before you leave for the day, or create some picture reminders for your kids’ morning routine.
2. Turn off the lights automatically.
If you or your kids have trouble remembering to turn off the lights, there are a couple of inexpensive automatic lighting control devices you can use to help you: a digital timer switch or a motion sensor.
With a digital timer switch, instead of flipping a switch, you choose a button for how long you want the lights to be on. The button choices are typically 5 minutes to 4 hours. The switch turns off the lights at the end of the time frame. You may still use more electricity than you need though if you regularly hit the 4-hour button and only go into the room for a few minutes.
With a sensor, instead of flipping a switch, the sensor looks for a change in heat. Occupancy sensors turn on when the sensor sees the heat from your body. Vacancy sensors turn off when your body heat is no longer seen. Both types have buttons for you to control the lights manually.
Most digital timer switches and motion sensors cost less than $20. If you or a friend can install them safely, there won’t be any additional installation cost. If you are not familiar with changing out switches, consult a local electrician. Electricians cost $50-$100 per hour.
Make a list of the light switches that you regularly forget to turn off. Discuss with your family what type of control might help you reduce the amount of lighting left on when not needed.
3. Replace your light bulbs.
If you are at home often during the week and you actually use your lighting significantly, consider using energy saving light bulbs.
Energy Saving light bulbs include halogen, compact fluorescent, and LED. One of the main complaints about using these is the amount of light they put out (or don’t).
An incandescent light bulb provides 800 lumens (a measure of light). When you look for new light bulbs, make sure to look at the lumen output and not just what the manufacturer says is a 60W equivalent. I typically pick a 75W equivalent in order to get at least 800 lumens.
Another complaint is the color of the light. Look for a yellower or warmer white bulb to match incandescents better.
Make a list of the light fixtures you use the most and replace those light bulbs first. Go to your local hardware store and see if you can find any LED light bulbs discounted by incentives from your local electrical utility company.