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Save $7,440.00 with a Flick of a Switch
Old 12-22-2011, 10:46 AM   #1
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Save $7,440.00 with a Flick of a Switch

A new neighbor has his five outdoor lights on 24/7. Even during the night, they serve no purpose except as decoration. The family is rarely home, since they all work and go to school.

My calculation is that if they are 100 watts each, at .17/KWH, he's spending $744 per year, or $7,440 over the course of 10 years.

Did I slip a decimal place? Could anyone be unaware of that?
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Old 12-22-2011, 10:54 AM   #2
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Unless the neighborhood is rough then it might pay to leave the lights on otherwise no.
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Old 12-22-2011, 10:56 AM   #3
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I take it they are bothering you, perhaps shining into your bedroom window at night? Have you spoken with them?

We had an issue with a large light being left on every night outside some apartments behind us. Shined right into our bedroom. Landlord wouldn't fix. My wire cutters did. Hasn't been a problem for over 10 years now.
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Old 12-22-2011, 10:57 AM   #4
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http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/cost.html

Your numbers are about right.

We leave 3 CFL's running 24/7. No way I'm going to try remembering to turn them on and off every night. At $100 per year, it's scraps. Not worth chasing the savings of making it more efficient.
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:02 AM   #5
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Maybe he's just protecting the $7,440,000.00 'investment' he has growing under a different set of lights in the basement?

When you look at it that way, cheap insurance

I was able to run some report on my kwhr usage compared to neighbors. Can't find it right now, but IIRC I was in about the middle/upper of the lower quintile, and about 1/2 the average. But I couldn't see what the upper quintile looked like - I'm guessing it would be

-ERD50
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:02 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
A new neighbor has his five outdoor lights on 24/7. Even during the night, they serve no purpose except as decoration. The family is rarely home, since they all work and go to school.
My calculation is that if they are 100 watts each, at .17/KWH, he's spending $744 per year, or $7,440 over the course of 10 years.
Did I slip a decimal place? Could anyone be unaware of that?
Your math is correct. But people don't like to do math.

Many Hawaii residents have $400/month electric bills from running air conditioners in uninsulated houses. Yet they balk at paying a few thousand bucks to property insulate the room or the windows (e.g., from jalousies to full glass), let alone use setback thermostats or high-efficiency systems.

We had tenants who managed to hit $700 on their electric bill. They ran a room air conditioner continuously in a room with jalousie windows. The attic is uninsulated. They left the blinds open on a south-facing window. But the tenant didn't want to "let in the outside air", let alone cool the house with the tradewinds.

We have neighbors who maintained collision insurance on a 12-year-old minivan. When it finally had a collision the insurer gave them $2800. I have no idea what their premiums were but it seems difficult to believe that they made money on the payout.

As photovoltaic systems get cheaper, though, more people are willing to pay up for them.
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:04 AM   #7
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Maybe suggest to him to install 5 motion activated flood lights using outdoor CFL bulbs. Bulbs plus hardware wouldn't run more than $100-200.

The motion activated light plus CFL I have is 15 watts and bright enough to illuminate a large area sufficiently well with 1 bulb.

If each light was on an average of 4 hours per day, it would cost $18.62 per year (plus you might save on longer life CFLs versus what are possibly more expensive halogens). A savings of $726. A 3 month payback if installed yourself or a year payback if an electrician does the switch out.

Edit to add: for anyone wanting to trim their outdoor security lighting bills - take a look at CFL compatible motion activated lighting at your hardware store. IIRC I bought a light fixture for around $20 and the bulbs are fairly reasonable ($5-7 IIRC) working great so far and I figured it would save me many hundreds of dollars over the course of its life.
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:08 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by pimpmyretirement View Post
We leave 3 CFL's running 24/7. No way I'm going to try remembering to turn them on and off every night. At $100 per year, it's scraps. Not worth chasing the savings of making it more efficient.
Sure it is. There are inexpensive timers that can go right into one of the existing switches. Not only will you save ~ 2/3rds of the kwhr, the bulbs will last longer. Payback in less than a year, easy.

Celebrate, and buy yourself a $50 treat each year with the savings. Better than lighting up the daylight, IMO.

-ERD50
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:20 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
My calculation is that if they are 100 watts each, at .17/KWH, he's spending $744 per year, or $7,440 over the course of 10 years.
Ever wondered why the Europeans are consistently amazed by the typical American family monthly utility bills? I bet if the electricity price is increased by ten folds, your neighbor's behavior will change.
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Old 12-22-2011, 12:00 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
A new neighbor has his five outdoor lights on 24/7. Even during the night, they serve no purpose except as decoration. The family is rarely home, since they all work and go to school.

My calculation is that if they are 100 watts each, at .17/KWH, he's spending $744 per year, or $7,440 over the course of 10 years.

Did I slip a decimal place? Could anyone be unaware of that?
I especially noticed the part about "...they serve no purpose except as decoration."

The price of vanity, how much is one willing to pay.
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Old 12-22-2011, 12:21 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by FUEGO View Post
Maybe suggest to him to install 5 motion activated flood lights using outdoor CFL bulbs. Bulbs plus hardware wouldn't run more than $100-200.

The motion activated light plus CFL I have is 15 watts and bright enough to illuminate a large area sufficiently well with 1 bulb.

If each light was on an average of 4 hours per day, it would cost $18.62 per year (plus you might save on longer life CFLs versus what are possibly more expensive halogens). A savings of $726. A 3 month payback if installed yourself or a year payback if an electrician does the switch out.

Edit to add: for anyone wanting to trim their outdoor security lighting bills - take a look at CFL compatible motion activated lighting at your hardware store. IIRC I bought a light fixture for around $20 and the bulbs are fairly reasonable ($5-7 IIRC) working great so far and I figured it would save me many hundreds of dollars over the course of its life.

I don't know what kind of bulbs you use, but my outdoor CFLs that are large (and even my indoor ones) put out very little light when they first turn on.... I can see less than half of the coil lite... now, after a few minutes they are nice and bright, but for security purposes I want a LOT of light right now....
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Old 12-22-2011, 12:26 PM   #12
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Heck, I still cringe when I think of the lady who lived in my house before me. She'd leave the outside light on all night long. It's one of those bright fluorescent 175W things that I swear will attract hornets from the next zipcode. At least it had a light detector built in though, so it would turn off at sunrise.

The whole bug thing is the main reason I rarely use the thing. In fact, back in October I turned it on, just for an hour or so at night. Got below freezing over the night. In the morning I came outside, and found 4 or 5 hornets, seemingly frozen on the deck railing and the side of the house.

Oh, and lesson learned. Don't blow on a frozen hornet to try and thaw it out!
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Old 12-22-2011, 12:27 PM   #13
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I don't know what kind of bulbs you use, but my outdoor CFLs that are large (and even my indoor ones) put out very little light when they first turn on.... I can see less than half of the coil lite... now, after a few minutes they are nice and bright, but for security purposes I want a LOT of light right now....
I couldn't tell you what kind they are. There is a little of that initial dimness that you mention, but not that noticeable. There is adequate light to illuminate someone if they are snooping around my driveway where the cars are parked or trying to open the gate to the rear of the house. My operating theory is that if someone walks up with the intent to break into a car or sneak into the back of the house, the light will illuminate them and they will move on to the next house that doesn't have motion activated lights. Or sneak to the other side of my house which doesn't have motion activated lights. In any event, I'm not concerned about a lot of light, but rather just enough to shed some light on someone lurking around my driveway or house and make them clearly visible from the street.

But the most useful reason to have the light is so we can see getting in and out of our cars and to unlock the door (no garage).
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Old 12-22-2011, 12:42 PM   #14
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I recently bought an LED night light that uses 1/3 watt per hour compared to the 7 watts used by the former night light. But, the LED light does not have an on/off switch. So, a friend thinks I am waisting electricity and should have continued using the old 7 watt light. Try to explain that I can run it for 24 hours for less electricty usage than the old light needs for 2 hours and the logic falls on deaf ears. Oh, I spend nothing on replacement bulbs for the LED nightl light compared to about $1 year for the old light. So... less waist in the trash. But, hey, no on/off switch so it must be bad.
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Old 12-22-2011, 12:43 PM   #15
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That's over $60 on every monthly bill.
If that's not noticeable to your neighbor, then it's a fair bet that the rest of their energy usage is equally profligate, so the savings from turning off those few lights would probably not be considered significant.

It would certainly be a big deal for me. Annualized, my monthly electric bill is around $200, and we have a total electric house (including heating and air conditioning) in a part of the country where it gets both very cold and very hot.
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Old 12-22-2011, 12:53 PM   #16
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DW is an outside light freak. She put photocells (which really don't work as desired) on all 4 of them, but they are often on during the day when it's overcast. All I can say in her defense is, they are all CFL's now at 13W each, so the cost is much less than your neighbor. It took me a while to learn, but I'm not going to argue with her for at most $77/year or 21 cents/day...

As you know your neighbor could save a lot using lower wattage incandescents or CFL's.
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Old 12-22-2011, 12:54 PM   #17
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That's over $60 on every monthly bill.
If that's not noticeable to your neighbor, then it's a fair bet that the rest of their energy usage is equally profligate, so the savings from turning off those few lights would probably not be considered significant.

It would certainly be a big deal for me. Annualized, my monthly electric bill is around $200, and we have a total electric house (including heating and air conditioning) in a part of the country where it gets both very cold and very hot.
$60 per month would definitely be a big deal for me, too! I just checked my records, and for 2011, I spent $2891.69 for electricity, with the average coming out to about 14.2 cents per KWH. That's about $241 per month, which I guess in the overall scheme of things isn't too bad for an all-electric house that's 96 years old, drafty, and poorly insulated, in the DC area.
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Old 12-22-2011, 01:33 PM   #18
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I'd take $60 of free money. There's a nearby house lit up like a stadium with about forty 100-watt lamps shining all night. I recall calculating the glare costs about $300 per month. In addition to being an eyesore, seems like quite a waste to me.
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Old 12-22-2011, 01:41 PM   #19
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Living in Missouri, I dont get to worked up about bill costs. It is about 8 cents a kilowatt. But that is for the first monthly 750 kwh. Anything after that it is only 5 cents. The more you use, the less ave. per kwh hour you pay. You gotta love those nuclear reactors built in the 70's that are still humming along cranking out cheap electricity
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Old 12-22-2011, 02:11 PM   #20
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I only use about $1000 a year, so having all these bulbs on would nearly double my electric usage. 40 year old house with no trees and I like to crank the A/C (it stays above 90 for extended periods of time June-July-August here in the southeast USA).
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