Renter’s LED Dilemma, Replace With LED’s or Suffer The Cost Consequences


The decision to swap incandescent light bulbs for LED’s is often the first step a homeowner takes on their journey to sustainability, but what if you’re a renter stuck in an expensive urban center struggling to save for a home, is it really worth spending your Sunday afternoon shopping and comparing the savings of an incandescent light bulb compared to that of and LED?  Unless your plan is to save energy by letting each bulb burn out one at a time until you’re left huddling around a single source of light, scared and paranoid of the shadows dancing on the apartment walls like a primitive Neanderthal, you might consider taking a deeper look.


First, dust off that rental agreement sitting atop your refrigerator to see who bears responsibility of this litigious issue to arm yourself with facts for the ensuing battle.  Generally speaking, landlords are required to supply working bulbs prior to the renter moving in however tenants are responsible to replace failed bulbs during occupancy because they ultimately consume the kWh (kilowatt-hour) energy over the life of the bulb. Despite this truce of sorts there exists some “wiggle” room and although I empathize with landlords, as a fellow renter I’ll focus on strategies favorable to my own interests.


Even if the agreement states the renter is responsible or it’s at all vague, kindly ask your landlord to replace the bulbs with LED’s when they fail citing you’ve been a great tenant and plan to rent for years to come etc.  If you live in a big apartment complex, you might try skirting the formal process and casually mention it to the maintenance guy on the way out, you’d be surprised what could happen just by asking.  It’s likely though you’ll receive some resistance so be prepared to counteroffer by replacing the bulbs yourself if they’ll credit you the cost off next month’s rent, saving them the time and allowing you to select the bulbs.  The best approach of course is to request installation of LED’s as condition BEFORE moving in when you have the most leverage and landlords are more flexible meet to your needs.


Assuming you’ve reached a stalemate with your landlord and have to pony up, there are almost as many online LED savings calculators to help as there are companies selling LED light bulbs, each one equally quirky and with only faint standardization between them.  After decoding the 3 easiest, calculations showed that replacing a standard 60 watt incandescent with a 9 watt LED (assuming $.11 / kWh national average, 3 hrs / day) found an average savings of $6.05 per year shown below.\ ($5.84) ($6.14) ($6.19)


Given that LED’s are available at Home Depot for ~$5/bulb and as little as ~$2/bulb in bulk on, renters and homeowners should replace incandescent bulbs with LED’s because the first year energy savings is greater than the bulb price, assuming install them the day you move in or stay a full year after installation to guarantee savings.  According to, “An ENERGY STAR certified 60W replacement bulb retailing for $6 or below will have a payback of a year or less” and considering prices are already below this threshold and continuing to decline also support this.

Now you can begin to freely replace bulbs start you can start thinking creatively about your next energy saving project.  Please share your own thoughts and experiences on this topic, especially entertaining stories and successful strategies with your landlords.

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