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Do Smart Bulbs Save Money and Energy?

Last Updated Mar 14, 2022
smart bulbs and packaging on table

As a renter, I have always wanted to make my home in some way “Smart,” that didn’t require installing anything too difficult. Smart light bulbs seem like a great start, but will they add to my already large energy bill or save me a few bucks each month?

Will smart light bulbs save you some money on your energy bill each month? Yes, most smart bulbs are LED which use on average 75% less energy than the conventional incandescent lighting as well as lasting 25 times longer. Not only will a smart light bulb use less energy per month, they also last a lot longer than the old fashioned filament bulbs.

When you add the extra features such as remote and motion controlled sensors, the savings could be even more.

Do Smart Bulbs Use Electricity When They Are Off?

Even when the smart bulbs are off, they will still draw a very, very small amount of power. Don’t worry though, it is not as bad as it sounds. The power drawn is so minimal, I would be impressed if anyone even noticed the few pennies on their monthly bill.

There are a couple reasons why this is the case, both very understandable and almost expected for any technology considered smart.

2 Smart Bulbs installed in hanging lighting fixtures
Here are 2 Smart Bulbs installed

If the bulb has a hub, it will need to maintain a connection to utilize all the cool features these bulbs usually come with.

Even without the hub, the bulb will still need to stay connected to the Wi-Fi, which of course will draw that minimal amount of electricity.

Without either of these connections, the bulb would be your regular everyday not so smart light. The constant connection allows you to access the lights at any time and from anywhere.

Check out our recommended page for Best Smart Bulbs!

The amount of energy consumed while dormant is so small it would take months for that bulb to use even 1 kWh of energy. Just for reference, I pay about 13 cents per kWh. Even if I was paying double that amount, the amount of energy a smart bulb would use for me would amount to pennies each month. I would say the cost saving benefits more than make up for it.

I did find that lights that are connected through Z-wave tend to use a slightly higher amount of energy. Again, nothing to be to concerned over as it would take hundreds of hours to add up to 1 kWh.

These still hover in the pennies per month when off range and would hardly make a dent in overall consumption.

Where Do The Savings Come From?

The majority of the savings come from the LED aspect of the light bulb, as they consume so much less energy and don’t run as hot as a regular, old fashioned non smart bulb.

90% of energy is given off as heat with the old school bulbs, basically throwing money away.

If you switched out your five most used lights in your home to an energy efficient smart bulb, you would most definitely see the savings on your next energy bill from this one benefit alone.

How Long Do Smart Bulbs Last?

These lights also last much longer as well. The traditional incandescent light bulb will last anywhere rom 1,000 to 3,000 hours.

Most smart light bulbs will last up to 25,000 hours, some even going as high as 30,000 hours.

With your normal everyday usage, that could stretch out to 15 years! So the old school lights may be cheaper to buy at first, the smart bulb is like the energizer bunny and keeps going and going and going…

The cost and energy savings don’t just come from the minimal LED energy consumption and long life span of the smart bulb, but also from some of the features that come in handy in everyday life.

Motion lights, that activate and deactivate with movement can take all of the worries away when it comes to turning lights on and off. Remote accessibility and/or monitoring for those days you forget to turn a light off before you head off to work.

These two alone can help you save up to 35% off your lighting energy bill per month.

If your mornings are anything like mine, extremely hectic is the norm and forgetting something as simple as turning off a light is almost expected. In my household, a huge cost saver for us will be the remote controlling options.

As long as the bulb has an app that you are already synced up with, leaving lights on all day will be a thing of the past. Imagine being able to check on your house and turn your bathroom lights off from your desk at work.

Upfront Costs and Annual Savings

The upfront costs of most smart bulbs will be higher than the traditional incandescent light bulbs. One of the most popular bulbs, the Phillips Hue, starts around $15 per bulb and can go up to $350 plus (when purchasing multiple bulbs).

These are not a one size fit all type deal. Finding the right priced bulb with the functionality you need or want will require a little due diligence. The good thing is, there are so many great bulbs out there. Some brands you might want to check out are the Phillips Hue, the eufy Lumos and TP Link.

So the initial costs will be a bit higher but the long term savings and added cool factor are well worth the cost.

A smart light bulb that comes with its own hub will cost slightly more than a standalone bulb.

On average, lighting accounts for 20-30% of your energy bill. When you factor in the longevity of LED smart bulbs and the remote and motion sensor functionality, the energy and dollar savings only get better.

I found this awesome energy savings calculator that allows you to see the exact savings you could expect to see with smart LED bulbs.

Long story short, you will end up saving both energy and money in the long run by upgrading to a smart bulb. The savings from energy efficient LED lighting alone, paired with the fact that they last 25 times longer than the light you probably have now, make any smart bulb upgrade a no brainer.

When you add in all the cool options available like dimmers, remote access, colors and motion sensing, it makes the case even stronger.

Installing a Smart Light Bulb

Installation will vary. The process will be slightly different for lights that come with there own hub or are being integrated into an existing hub or those that will just be connected to Wi-Fi.

Most of these bulbs come with an app, some better than others, but all necessary. While it is always best to follow the instructions that come with your new smart light bulb, the process can be boiled down to:

  1. Installing the light fixture
  2. Downloading and creating an account on the app
  3. Connecting to your smart home hub, the smart light hub or Wi-Fi

Its almost too easy. You can even integrate most of the bulbs with Alexa or Google assistant. Just add the lights as a new device and add the ability to control each light through your favorite home assistant.

How Long Do Smart Bulbs Last?

The average smart light LED bulb will last between 20,000 to 30,000 hours. With typical usage, that equates to around 15-20 years. Even the non-smart LED bulbs have a lifespan considerably longer than the old fashion incandescent bulb.

Do Smart Bulbs Use less Electric When They are Dimmed?

If a light is on and emitting light, it is consuming some amount of energy. having the ability to dim lights will reduce the amount of energy consumed based on how much the light is dimmed. If the light is barely letting of any light, it is using a very small amount of energy. The more light emitting, the more energy being used. Even when the light is fully on, the LED technology keeps the energy consumption a considerable amount lower than the old fashioned light.

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