In case your paradigm of a light bulb involves only standard, medium based screw-in bulbs, you should visit some web sites and explore the possibilities of an energy makeover. For example, there are wedge-based bulb replacements http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-b...%2FWLED-x5.htm and prong-type (G4) bulb replacements http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-b...-pin.html%23g4 I employed some of the former type to replace bulbs in low voltage outdoor lighting, but that is where the fun just begins.
Unfortunately, many folks might just stop at the Kill-a-watt reading and think they’ve got the whole story figured out. First, LEDs gain in efficiency is because they don’t waste (much) energy as heat. Halogen bulbs are becoming the rage, but they are incredibly HOT- and all that heat could indeed require more air conditioning to remove it. I scoff at the idiots who are trying to protect the ‘right’ to waste energy via conventional incandescent bulbs, scheduled to depart store shelves in the near future. From the air conditioning, to the copper in the conducting wires, to the surplus power generation required, no one has the right to rob society in this way- now that we have awesome alternatives.
If there was a way to mine the copper out of circuits that no longer need amperage to support incandescents, LEDs would more than pay for themselves in materials alone. And I would like to think new construction projects would offer wiring savings in this regard, but our draconian electrical codes would never allow an ‘enlightened’ approach to right sizing circuits.
As mentioned, I installed 18 wedge based LED bulbs in a deck railing lighting circuit that I was loathe to use since I bought the house in 2007. However, LEDs have given me the freedom to use decorative lighting without guilt (or waste). The amount of electricity consumed by all eighteen of these LEDs (4 watts) is less than what ONE of the previous bulbs consumed (5 watts). And the lighting is superior as well.
However, the real lesson of this story doesn’t begin until now.
I had a feeling, and the Kill-a-watt confirmed, that the transformer/timer energizing this 12v circuit devalued everything else. Online research, and perusing the home improvement stores, will accomplish nothing without some common sense as a guide. Every solution I found was no solution at all. What are out there are bulky, wasteful transformers that in no way consider the miniscule LED load being energized. Twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year, the previous homeowner left this ridiculous box humming away, awaiting the call for this hand rail lighting. Another (for a circuit I removed) hummed right along, by its side. As measured, each transformer wasted 12 watts. This 105 kwh wasted annually would be enough to cover 2 weeks of commuting in the Volt.
My solution? Stop at Radio Shack and look for a transformer that only needed to supply the <1 amp necessary for this circuit. The box is comparable to a cell phone charger- in size and cost. And they are apparently making these small transformers smarter these days. Measurements showed zero watts consumed when no loading was present. So the four watts of LED bulbs was all that showed on the Kill-a-watt. No more paying for 12 watts 24/7 to occasionally run a 4 watt load. And two free weeks of driving, to boot.
Of course the saddest part of the wasted resource realization was noting the few copper fibers coming from the new transformer (comparable to the hair in your nose) coupled to standard gage wiring that led off to the rest of the lighting circuit. Unfortunately, no one wrote in my name at the Iowa Straw Poll last week so that I could do something about this huge waste of copper. I have often told folks that I believe future generations will be mining our landfills for valuable resources we currently discard with abandon. At least copper is valuable enough to be salvaged in our modern era.