The Washington Post published a front-page article today on what they seem to think is the latest federal boondogle: . They lament that a new LED light bulb from Philips, that won the federal contest to design a bulb that produces light exactly the same as a traditional 60W bulb, will soon go on sale for $50. How could the government be so foolish? Look, our pretty graphic says the costs, even when you factor in the fact that you have to buy 30 incandescent bulbs to match the lifetime of one LED and the cost of electricity, it's still cheaper to buy the old bulbs.
Wait. Did you click on the link? It doesn't say anything about the operating costs and how many bulbs you have to buy? Huh. It did in the print edition.
But, now they've "corrected" the web edition by cutting off the key bit where they made a laughable math error. They divided the cost of electricity by 10. See
here for the bit they cut off. See there, at the bottom? The part under "cost" where they say it'll cost you $48 to use regular old bulbs vs $53 for this newfangled LED. But they're math is way, way off.
Here's where they go wrong: First, they compare the costs of buying bulbs, $30 for 30 1000-hr regular bulbs vs. $50 for one 30,000-hr bulb -- so far, so good. Then they add on the electricity cost 1,800 kWh used for the old bulb vs 300 kWh used by the LED over 10 years; right. Now, multiply by the cost per kWh for electricity and . . . wait a minute . . . $18?? 1 cent per kWh?? Anyone pay that? Um, no. The average retail price of electricity is $.10 per kWh, and the vast majority of the country pays 12 cents or more.
The result is you pay $180 for electricity with the old bulbs vs. $30 with the LED bulb. The electricity savings alone pays for the bulb 3 times over! Even paying the cheapest electricity rates in the country, a consumer will save about $100. But if you live in NY, PA, CA, or AL it's about $200. In HI it's over $500! That's not "affordable?"
Fact is, consumers are going to have to get used to the idea that instead of replacing a bulb every 4-6 months, they're buying one for 10 years. If someone told you that it's a good deal to buy a car that gets 10mpg because it's $1000 cheaper than the one that gets 20 mpg, wouldn't you laugh in their face? Yet, this is apparently the way math works in WaPo world.
Nevermind that the entire premise of the article falls apart as soon as you do the math correctly, the WaPo seems to think they've corrected the article now that they've taken their glaring math error off the website. Either they're dumber than your average 5th-grader, or they think you are.