Friends, I Spent $180 on Lightbulbs

This is true. It is not an exaggeration.

See, we bought a house. And you know what we didn’t do when we were looking at houses? Check what kind of light bulbs they had, or count how many.

Turns out the answer is (a) mostly incandescents and (b) a lot. Downstairs alone, there are nine 65-watt flood lights and four ceiling light fixtures with two bulbs each. Upstairs, there are six more ceiling fixtures, not to mention the outside. The previous owners have had an incandescent outdoor light going all night.

Have some flood lights. No, really, we have plenty more where these came from.

Have some flood lights. No, really, we have plenty more where these came from.

This is what a $77 ($56 plus tax and shipping) box of light bulbs looks like.

This is what a $77 ($56 plus tax and shipping) box of light bulbs looks like.

Because I am a frugal person, it’s like I could feel the wastage of electricity every time I turned on a light. So what’s a girl to do? We’ve had CFLs for years, but they don’t always last as long as they should and the toxicity makes me nervous. The good news is, LEDs are equally judicious with the juice, supposedly last even longer (up to 22 years, says the package), are nontoxic, and have come down in price, especially thanks to local energy rebates available in many locations.

The bad news is that they are still at least $5 per bulb. The floods start at $10. Can you multiply? 9 flood lights times $10 is $90 just for those. Fortunately, they are reeeeeally bright, and not all of the enclosed fixtures needed all their slots filled.

I just gritted my teeth and bought the damn light bulbs. (I got the basic 60 watt bulb-shapes ones at Lowes and ordered floods from Costco, as their floods were ever so slightly less bright. I paid only $5 for the regular bulbs and got $12 off the floods thanks to local rebates.) I’m not even quite sure if I have enough; the ceiling light fixtures are hard to take apart, so we are going to open them up just once each, see which bulbs are incandescent, swap, repeat. (We also might need a new dimmer switch for those many basement flood lights.) Supposedly, LED bulbs are not really “consumables” in that they will not have to be replaced any time in the foreseeable future. We could all have jet packs and flying cars before the bulbs burn out.

But I gotta say, it felt weird to drop almost $200 on light bulbs, of all things. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever spent “a lot” of money on? Do you think it paid off?

Obviously, I will be saving the warranty information.

Obviously, I will be saving the warranty information.


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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

6 responses to “Friends, I Spent $180 on Lightbulbs”

  1. Mrs PoP says :

    Lightbulbs!!! Yay! I did way too much reading on lightbulbs when getting our lighting plan finalized a couple of months ago and am really happy with the LEDs we ended up with so far. It’s the first time I’ve been paying attention to the color of the light when buying bulbs, and I wonder how big of a difference it’s going to make once we get walls and cabinetry put back up again.

    Weirdest thing we’ve been spending money on lately is copper wire. A friggin ton of it. We’re ending up doing a lot more rewiring in the kitchen than was originally in the plan since the existing wiring wasn’t the best and wasn’t worth salvaging. But copper wire is friggin expensive and you end up using way more than you think to have fancy lighting options like lighting the cabinetry or inside the pantry.

  2. Amy K says :

    Good Luck with your LEDs! We’re in Massachusetts and scored several during our MassSave home energy audit. After iffy results with CFLs (weird color, long warmup, early burnout) I was reluctant to outlay the cash myself, but I’ve been happy with all of the LEDs. They’re TCP brand, if that helps.

    We still have a blend of bulbs around the house, but we won’t have to buy any replacements for a very, VERY long time!

    • frugalparagon says :

      Hopefully we’ll like ours as well asl you do yours! We’ve had some CFLs that are still going strong (the coil-shaped ones seem to have better color, faster warmup, and longer life than anything else) but we broke one a few months ago and I was freaked out by the mercury issue.

  3. seattlegirluw says :

    Cabinet pulls. Our kitchen was a horrible, dingy beige. The pulls were really crappy. Just the basic brass-looking pulls that came with ’60s houses. Normally not something that bothers me, but these looked terrible.

    Since I was going to repaint the cabinets anyway, I started looking at pulls. Ye gods! I found some on clearance that were still like $3 each. They were really cool, but then I counted how many we’d need. Twenty six. Suddenly, I wasn’t so happy about all that cupboard space.

    Your CFLs will pay off eventually. We’re home all day and have very little natural light. So we have CFLs going pretty much all the time. It still takes quite some time for the bulbs to die.

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