How many light bulbs are in the average American home?

Many homeowners in the United States today are aware of steps that can be taken to reduce normal household expenses. Everyday things like sealing windows and doors, or properly insulating attic spaces, can generate high returns on the dollar invested. However, one of the most overlooked ways to save money is by changing your light bulbs.

Sure, we’ve all heard for years about switching to CFLs and how changing one bulb can save up to $67.00 in energy. Also, many of us went to a store, bought some and started saving energy. We pride ourselves on getting rid of old incandescent light bulbs as part of our own efforts to save the planet, but have we done all we can? Chances are, you haven’t even touched the top of the energy-saving ladder.

We recently conducted a household survey of over 500 households in South Florida. Our intent was to find out what the average home use of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) is. Our results were staggering, and to say the least, surprising. In our survey of midsize households, we found that only one in four households (1:4) currently used CFLs. Additionally, we found that not a single homeowner had changed all of their incandescent bulbs to CFL bulbs.

In this study, homeowners were asked an introductory question. How many light bulbs are in your house? By counting and averaging the results of the question, the average guess of American homeowners was twenty-one incandescents per home. As part of our American household survey, each homeowner was walked room by room and around the outside of the house, counting each light. No one person could guess or identify her true average household number. The average number of light bulbs per home was a whopping forty-seven, energy-wasting lamps.

According to our estimates, more than 90% of residential electricity consumers are not reaching their potential savings. If we calculate the energy savings achievable by changing or replacing traditional incandescents or halogens in a home at $67.00 each, then the total achievable savings per home would be $3149.00.

Each home can vary in size, layout, and number of fixtures or portable lamps, but here are the areas most frequently overlooked in our survey and why you should choose to use them:

  • Outdoor: Motion-activated porch lights and security lights can provide great energy savings when switched to an energy-efficient lamp. Make sure the product you buy is rated for use with switching devices.
  • Torch lamps: Consider replacing double ended halogen lamps with lamps that use a traditional screw base.
  • Wardrobes: Using CFL bulbs in closets can help color match clothing because they provide greater color rendering and make it easier to classify blacks and dark blues.
  • Garage: Because CFLs have higher color temperatures, such as daylight, this makes it easier to perform tasks in traditionally poorly lit areas. Don’t forget the bulb inside the garage door opener.
  • Laundry room: Using fluorescents or compacts in this area makes better use of task lighting for pre-treatment of laundry and sorting of soiled items.
  • Fridge: Although this light doesn’t stay on for long, LED bulbs can save up to $30.00 and keep food fresher.
  • Hallways: Although many people don’t use them often, replacing the bulbs in this area is helpful when you need them.
  • Toilets: Newer compact fluorescent lamps do not have long warm-up times like older lamps. Using them in this area can dramatically reduce electricity while providing better light quality for tasks like makeup and grooming.

Try the household survey for yourself. Make a chart of each type of light bulb found inside and outside your home or condo. Indicate what wattages and base types are required, then find the energy-saving products that are available and simply add up your savings. Not only will you be surprised, but you just might be able to afford that new energy efficient dishwasher you had in mind!