Save Money and the Planet as Easily as Changing a Lightbulb


It was recently Energy Efficiency Day (but every day could be!), and you can save money and save the planet as easily as changing a light bulb.

Lighting your house costs more money than you may think, and electricity consumption is one of the major sources for greenhouse gas emissions.

By replacing one or more traditional light bulbs with an LED or compact fluorescent one, you’ll make a bigger impact on your wallet.


Lights On: Seeing the Real Costs

More than 60 percent of homes have 20 or more lightbulbs, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. While homeowners may not turn many of these lights on often, the energy—and utility costs—add up.

Lighting accounts for about 5 percent of the average household’s electric bill, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Electricity use generates about 40 percent of emissions in the D.C. region. These harmful gases contribute to air pollution, and they are one of the causes of global warming.


Replace Five Light Bulbs to Save $75 a Year

While LED bulbs are more expensive, prices have dropped 85 percent in recent years, and they are cheaper to operate and last longer than incandescent bulbs and even energy efficient CFLs.

You can save $75 a year by replacing your five most frequently used bulbs with an LED or CFL with the ENERGY STAR label.  

lightbulb savings graphic

LEDs with the ENERGY STAR rating use 75 percent less electricity than an incandescent bulb, and they last 25 times longer.

Compare the costs and lifespan:

  • An LED bulb costs an estimated $1 a year to use compared to $4.80 for an incandescent, says the U.S. Department of Energy. LEDs even save money compared to energy efficient CFLs that cost $1.20 per year.
  • An LED will last 25,000 hours, while a CFLs lifespan is about 10,000 hours. Traditional incandescent bulbs burn out after only 1,000 hours.


We’re Installing LEDs to Save You Money

Our facilities managers aim for a yearly 1 percent reduction in energy use per square foot in many of our buildings. So far, we have been meeting or exceeding our goal despite substantially increasing our total square footage as we add new or renovate buildings.

We are meeting this goal by retrofitting, upgrading and installing new equipment like LED light bulbs.

Infographic showing energy savings by county

Since July 2016, we’ve replaced 2,278 bulbs in county facilities with LEDs. This has resulted in:

  • $482,769 in lifetime savings on electricity costs
  • More than 6 million kilowatt hours less in lifetime energy use

This decreased electricity use is equivalent to avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions from:

  • 962 cars driven for a year
  • 4.9 million pounds of coal burned
  • 10,398 barrels of oil consumed


More Ways You Can Save

If you want to be even more energy efficient—and save even more money—consider:

1.     Installing a programmable thermostat and turn down the temperature. When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees. If you do this for eight hours, you can save about 10percent a year on your heating and cooling bills, based on the U.S. Department of Energy’s figures.

2.     Unplug electronics when not using them or use a power strip. Many electronics and appliances are sucking up electricity even while they’re turned off. You could be losing up to $200 a year. Stop these energy vampires by unplugging them or plug them into a power strip to easily turn them on and off.

Visit Energy Action Fairfax for Tips


How Businesses and Nonprofits Can Save

Businesses and nonprofits can apply for loans to make energy efficiency or renewable energy investments in their existing or new commercial buildings. This innovating financing option, which state law enables, is known as Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy or C-PACE. To learn more, attend an information session on Nov. 29 at noon at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax (Rooms 2/3). The event is hosted by the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council and the Great Falls Group of the Virginia Sierra Club. To register or ask questions, email


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