Curbing Your Consumption:
Take an LED light for a spin
By John Ford
Give your clothesline or dryer a headstart - use a spin dryer. They
are available from about $200 to $600. They take out about 60% of the
water left in clothes after washing at 3000 RPM. This reduces your
drying time by about half. For an electric dryer, this would cut 25¢
per load at today's prices and a half hour of time, taking 800
loads to pay back the investment of $200. For a family of four
that's about two years. An added benefit is that they are gentler
on clothes, which will last longer.
When you're shopping for lights to string up this year, don't
forget to look for LED lights. The entire string uses less electricity
than just one regular bulb. They don't burn out, meaning you
won't have to climb the ladder to fix that one dead bulb.
Available now are LED night lights. The price is about $5, but they
use only about one third of a watt compared to a regular bulb at four
watts, so payback takes about a year. If you're looking to replace
your regular home lighting with LED, they are not yet
cost-effective. Bulbs are available - used in traffic lights for
example - but are around $100. Compact Fluorescent is still the
champion for price today.
LED flashlights can be found for between $10 and $20. One set of
batteries will burn for about twenty times that using a regular bulb
(about 100 hours compared to 5 hours), and give off the same amount of
light when the batteries drop in voltage rather than getting dim. This
makes them useful for standby emergency lights where the batteries may
be of unknown condition. You can also buy LED bulbs to replace regular
bulbs for popular flashlights. It's the last bulb you will buy for
In the not-too-distant future, our appliances will be 'smart'
and 'plugged in' to our home management systems. Our lighting
systems may be a part of this home network. Today the TV remote uses
an InfraRed LED to signal the TV. Visible light LEDs used in your home
lighting could also contain coded signals which would be used to
broadcast instructions throughout your home to wireless appliances
using just the room lighting.
Ask the Miser
If you would like to see answers here to your questions about energy
consumption, email them to
John Ford is a technology consultant, and owner of a small energy