Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Random Musings: LED Light Bulbs, And Stuff

950 kwh of electricity is what the Department of Energy says the average household uses per month.    We use far less than that average number, and according to National Grid, our consumption is "good" compared to our most efficient neighbors, the ones with one light bulb, and no TV, and those that used the most energy, the ones with the cyclotron in the basement.

We are "good", but my goal is to be even better.  I want to be ranked as "Darn Good".  Super Fine would be nice, too.

Each month I look forward to opening the bill, and seeing how we did, and until I find another Autumn hobby this will do.  Overall, we are heading in the right direction.

Today, I installed three more LED light bulbs in the living room.  Last week I installed six, three in the bathroom, and three more in the kitchen.

Cripes, I'm "puttering" and I'm far from being retired, but to me, this is a contest; a contest between me, and the National Grid.

Cree brand lightbulbs have had excellent reviews in 2013.
They are available at Home Depot.
The LED bulbs are finally at the stage where they are affordable, and they give a perfect, unflickering, non-self dimming, consistent light.

Now, one major aggravation with the curly-Q CFL bulbs has been their shape -shades don't rest on them very well. The manufacturers realized this after a million complaints, and  stuck the curly-Q's into a glass shell resembling an incandescent light bulb.  That worked great, however, the CFL bulbs continue to have a nasty habit of powering up brightly, and within a few seconds, they dim down.  This trait aggravated Mary to no end, and I had little to offer in their defense as I tried to change out all our incandescents in the house.  The CFL's are also non-dimmable, with a dimmer switch, as well, and if there is any interference to their circuit,  they will  flicker.  After all, they are fluorescent.

LED light bulbs are the way to go, but until recently, they just cost too much money despite the fact that One LED bulb will last 22-25 years. Today, they cost anywhere from $8.00 for a 60 watt warm white bulb to $13.00 to a 60 watt bright white bulb.  That is much better.  You would spend $25.00 over 25 years replacing one incandescent bulb, and spend a boat load more on the electricity it consumed.

There are three way LED  bulbs available, but the price is exorbitant, and all the LED bulbs can be operated with  a dimmer.

I have about a dozen and a half CFL's with years left in them.  If you want them, cheap, let me know.

This is the time of year for thinking on energy conservation, and also the time of year I think that they will someday find me frozen to my couch, remote in hand,  if I don't continue to make some wise energy decisions today.

When I look at our electricity consumption for the year thus far, and at our oil consumption for the year so far, of only 489 gallons,  I can't help but smile.  445 of those gallons were with the old boiler up until this past spring.

In 2012 we switched to an on demand electric hot water system for our domestic use, and left the boiler for just heating water for the steam to heat our house.  This past spring we replaced that boiler with a new, more efficient one.  I won't know just how much of an improvement it has made until the spring, but I will watch it closely on the way to April.

Next year we will insulate this 150 year old house beyond the two inches of cellulose we found in the attic.  We are going to  put some R-value in the walls!  All in all, this old house has actually done quite well keeping warm considering it isn't even wearing a coat.  This fall, I had Custom Insulation, of Worcester, come out, and reevaluate our house.  They are going to stay with the estimate they gave us in 2007.  This is noteworthy; a lot of companies would jack up their estimate after six months, never mind six years.

Come on, winter, hit me with your best shot!  I've got energy to conserve, money to save, and a spreadsheet that needs data.

Whoa.  I just listened to myself, and, I really do need to find a cold weather hobby.


  1. "......all the LED bulbs can be operated with a dimmer......"

    Be careful with the above statement. Dimmers need a significant load to operate correctly. What I mean by that is a dimmer's internal circuitry operates best when a load is place upon it similar to what you would see using inefficient incandescent bulbs. A dimmer works by turn the light on and off many cycles per second. Your eyes can't perceive this on/off flickering. The faster it switches the light on and off, the brighter you perceive the light to be. The slower is switches, the dimmer the light seems. LED's pose a problem in that they're so efficient, they don't place enough load on the dimmer for it to operate correctly. Sometimes the the bulb brightness will waver up and down and it will noticebly flicker. The brand of dimmer may have something to do with it as well. I recently replaced five 60 Watt floodlights in my kitchen with five LED floods which in total consumed the amount of just one incandescent floods. I installed a Lutron brand dimmer which clearly states that it's compatible with CFL's and LED's. I had nothing but problems with the Lutron brand dimmer. The floods occasionally flickered and pulsed up and down. If a sudden load was placed on the house voltage like the cycling of an air conditioner. the bruightness of lights would go way down and bounce up and down for a few moments. I finally had enough, took them out and stopped there. So I think it has a lot to do with the dimmer used to. If you try it, you must use dimmers that are compatible with CFL's and LED's. You can purchase both compatible and non-compartible units so be careful. Dimmers which have been installed for a long time will most likely not work. LED light of the correct temperature is wonderful. My floods give a sharp, crips light. CFL's on the other hand gave off a diffused light, and I didn't care for it. I noticed the lamposts leading into Burgess Elementary school are LED, and the overhead lighting at the Stop 'N Shop gase station uses them as well; both are the cold, blue/white light. LED lighting is coming on strong and you'll see the prices drop dramatically just like CFL's did. LEDs can also be packaged differently so you may see interesting lighting fixtures appear as designers learn to work with them. Fun times to be in for sure!

  2. Great tips, Tom. I will check the Cree site for any recommendations regarding a proper dimmer. This is the end of the Edison light bulb we have always known. LEDs will take the place of all lighting over the next few years. It will become even better, come in many more sizes and "wattages". I like living in the "Just Around the Corner" era.

  3. No Doubt such blogs help to create Eco-Friendly Environment as they save more energy with help to save Electricity up to 80%.
    Ref - Energy Efficient Lights Bulbs


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