Do Dimmable Lights Save Money?

Dimmer switches can help you save money on your electric bill.

Dimmer switches can help you save money on your electric bill.

Saving money on your energy bill frees up disposable cash to put into savings or spend on vacation. That makes it worth your time to find creative ways to lower the power bill. Installing a dimmer switch to dim your lights is one money saving option. Using a dimmer switch allows the light bulbs to work at partial capacity while still providing adequate illumination. In most cases, lowering your lights to 75 percent capacity can save 20 percent of the energy needed to power the bulb.

Incandescent Bulbs

Dimmer switches were designed to work in incandescent bulbs. They can create a romantic mood over dinner and, for dessert, save money. Reducing the amount of energy output from the bulb also reduces the amount of energy it takes to power the bulb. If you dim your lights by half, you can reduce the power requirements of the bulb by 40 percent and save up to $30 a year on the power bill. Dimming the lights by 24 percent can lead to savings of nearly $10 per year.

Bulb Life

Dimmer switches mean you'll save money at the store. Since they extend the life of your bulbs, you'll buy bulbs less often. Consistently dimming a full-power bulb can extend its live by up to four times.

Compact Fluorescents

Standard compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, aren't designed to work with dimmer switches. These bulbs are more eco-friendly than incandescent bulbs but more expensive. In 2012, you could find 75-watt incandescent bulbs for about $1.50 each, while 25-watt CFLs start closer to $4 each. They're designed to warm up for a few minutes before reaching full lighting capacity. Most dimming switches turn the light on and off at different speeds, but still too rapidly for our eyes to see the change. Dimming standard CFLs reduces their life span, costing you more over the long run by forcing you to buy more light bulbs than you would if you used a regular light switch for the CFL.

Dimmable CFLs

Look for CFL packages marked as "dimming." Dimmable 25-watt CFLs start at about $5 each, which is about $1 more expensive than standard CFL bulbs. However, they are designed to work with dimming switches. Dimming these lights extends their lives and lowers your home's energy needs.

Amount of Savings

Light bulbs are only a portion of your overall energy bill. Reducing their energy output will save you a little each month, so don't expect any huge immediate change. However, small savings add up over time. The actual amount you save depends on how many bulbs are on dimmer switches, how often you use them, and how much you dim them. You could save up to $150 over five years if you use dimmer switches on lights set at 50-percent power. Dimming lights also reduces your home's energy needs, which helps make it more environmentally friendly.


About the Author

Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.

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