LED light bulbs: a real, practical energy saver.

LED bulb photo courtesy of Clean Air Gardening.
LED bulb photo courtesy of Clean Air Gardening.

You’ve probably heard the argument about many forms of alternative energy, or energy saving products. Corn ethanol uses more energy to make than it saves when you use it. The Toyota Prius was accused (incorrectly) of being less efficient than a Hummer, because of the energy used to manufacture it.

Until now, people have had the same questions about LED light bulbs.

Does the manufacturing of the bulb itself use so much energy that the bulb could never make it up with a lifetime of lower energy use?

Today’s New York Times reports that a new study shows definitively that the lifetime energy use of LED light bulbs is dramatically lower than incandescent bulbs.

The study results show that over the entire life of the bulb — from manufacturing to disposal — the energy used for incandescent bulbs is almost five times that used for compact fluorescents and LED lamps.

The energy used during the manufacturing phase of all lamps is insignificant — less than 2 percent of the total. Given that both compact fluorescents and LEDs use about 20 percent of the electricity needed to create the same amount of light as a standard incandescent, both lighting technologies put incandescents to shame.

There’s one other misconception about LED light bulbs that I’d like to address here. People often mention that LED light bulbs are “too expensive” because of the upfront cost.

But it’s a little more complicated than that.

Yes, the upfront cost of the LED bulb is higher. But consider that a single LED bulb might last as long as 25,000 hours of use, where an incandescent might only last 1,000 hours. So you’d have to buy 25 incandescent bulbs (and change them regularly!) to equal just one LED light bulb.

And this doesn’t even account for the fact that an LED bulb uses around 20 percent of the energy to create the same amount of light. The energy cost of using the bulbs is just as important (or even more important) than the bulb itself.

Anyone have any experiences with LED light bulbs that they’d like to share?

Which bulbs are you using? How much did you pay? How’s the light and color? Are they lasting as long as promised? Where did you buy them?

Drop us a comment!

The Brammo Enertia Electric Motorcycle

“The Menace is loose again, the Hell’s Angels, the hundred-carat headline, running fast and loud on the early morning freeway, low in the saddle, nobody smiles, jamming crazy through traffic and ninety miles an hour down the center stripe, missing by inches. . . like Genghis Khan on an iron horse, no quarter asked and none given; show the squares some class, give em a whiff of those kicks they’ll never know. . . Ah, these righteous dudes, they love to screw it on. . . tense for the action, long hair in the wind, beards and ban­danas flapping, earrings, and stripped-down Harleys flashing chrome as traffic on 101 moves over, nervous, to let the formation pass like a burst of dirty thunder. . .”

-From Hells Angels, by Hunter S. Thompson.

I was young, and like a lot of guys my age, the idea of the open road, freedom, scaring the citizens on a bike with loud pipes and leather appealed to me.  And I’d be a liar if I said there wasn’t a part of me that it still does appeal to some days.

I sometimes look at the old photos of my 1953 Harley chopper and I miss it.  I forget all about getting pulled over by the cops all the time, and having to park around the corner to pick up my girl because her dad was a marine with Rottweiler’s and a distaste for biker trash.

It was fun, and exciting, and there was something amusing about soccer moms who had seen too many Roger Corman movies locking their car doors at a stop light when you pulled up.  It was practical transportation only if you were good with a wrench and where you had to be didn’t depend on you getting there without being covered in grease.   I wouldn’t trade those days for anything, and I still love motorcycles but I’ve calmed down a bit in my old age.

Motorcycle technology has come a long way since the day my old Harley rolled off the line in the 50s. Modern bikes of all makes no longer leak oil, and with modern fuel injection systems and electronic ignition, emissions are down and fuel economy is way up.  Even the big Harley Davidsons use less fuel than most cars, and are a lot more fun… even if you aren’t trying to “show the squares some class.”

In other countries, as usual, there have been diesel motorcycles for years.  A small diesel bike that would run off of veggie oil seemed to me to be the ultimate eco friendly transportation.

I’ve wanted one of the Royal Enfield diesels for years now, but they just aren’t common in this country.   Then I found out about the new Brammo Enertia Power Bike.

Front_3Q_Green 1000x667Let’s be clear. This isn’t the sort of bike that Brando would ride into town in “The Wild One.”   Dennis Hopper wouldn’t have ridden a chopped Enertia in “Easy Rider,” and Peter Fonda wouldn’t have packed Nancy Sinatra on one in the “Wild Angels.”  It doesn’t have the romantic appeal of a Harley, or the sporty feel of a Ducati.  This is a small commuter motorcycle that isn’t going to make anyone lock their doors at a stop light.  Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you.

With the Enertia, the folks at Brammo have put on the market a plug in full time electric motorcycle.  The bike gets up to 42 miles on a charge, and has a top speed of around 60 miles an hour.  You aren’t gonna cruise Route 66 on one, but if you are looking for a bike to run to the store or to commute to work on what could be better?

It takes no gas, and doesn’t leak oil all over you.  If you are lucky enough to have an eco-minded boss, you can plug it in to charge at work for the trip home.  In my case, I live less the 10 miles from down town and I could get to most places I want to go every day and make the return trip with electrons to spare.  If it were in my garage there would be a solar panel charging it bringing my fuel cost down to zero.

The aluminum framed two-wheeler weighs in at 334 lbs and will carry a combined rider/cargo weight of 600 lbs.  The battery is a Lithium Iron that requires 4 hours for a full recharge, and is good for about 2,000 recharges.

In addition to being green on the road, Brammo makes these motorcycles mostly out of recycled products. In fact, the entire bike is recyclable when the time comes.

The Enertia is presently sold through Best Buy stores. Even worse, as of today, only two Best Buy locations (both in Oregon where the bike is built) stock it.  The rest of us can order the bike online for $11,995, plus $500 shipping.

With tax incentives, fuel savings, and a lower carbon footprint it’s a pretty attractive deal.  I don’t know many people who would buy a motorcycle without being able to see it in person first, so let’s hope that these become available soon nationwide.

Click here for information on the Brammo Enertia Motorcycle.