I was inspecting a home not too long ago, which isn’t all that unusual given that it’s what I do as a professional Raleigh Home Inspector, when I made an observation that set me to thinking.
We all know that the “Green” movement is in full swing. We’re aware that things are changing, that things are moving in a direction where energy efficiency and the use of environmentally friendly products are becoming more the “norm” than the exception. We’re all more environmentally aware than we used to be…and that’s probably a good a good thing.
Recently, I was performing a home inspection when I made an observation that set me to thinking; my observation concerned the type, quality…and quantity…of light bulbs that were installed in this particular home.
Consider the newer types of light bulbs as they relate to energy use and efficiency. Newer types of much more energy efficient light bulbs are now available and in common use in the residential setting. What’s the big deal about that you might wonder. Well, lets consider those light bulbs on a different level than you might have previously considered.
There are three basic types of light bulbs in common residential use:
1) The vast majority of bulbs in use today are incandescent bulbs, They come in various wattage ratings and are relatively very cheap; they can be bought just about anywhere (for now at least) and will last from between 1000 and 2000 hours depending on quality. A 60 watt bulb, which is a very common size, can be bought for as little as $0.50 each…less than that if you buy them in bulk and on sale.
2) You are likely familiar with the newer compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. These are bulbs that are quite a bit more expensive but that will last considerably longer. A 15 Watt CFL bulb, which is the equivalent of that 60 watt incandescent bulb, can last for as many as 10,000 hours of use and can cost anywhere from $3.00 to as much as $15.00 depending on quality.
3) Then we have the much newer Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs. These bulbs can last a very long time…25,000 to 100,000 hours or more…and that’s a very long time. They are, though, considerably more expensive to purchase. LED bulbs can cost from between $20.00 to as much as $80.00 each for high quality bulbs, again, dependent on size and design.
Which brings us back to that house about which I made reference earlier. In this particular house, just about every light bulb…and I mean most all of them in the house with the exception of maybe a few in closets or storage spaces that see little use…had been replaced with very high quality, and very expensive, LED light bulbs. Now, I didn’t go around and count each individual light bulb, but I hypothesized that there were over 50 such light bulbs in the home. If one were to assign a very conservative median value of, say, $25.00 to each light bulb, then there would be at least $1250.00 worth of light bulbs in the home. The total value of the installed bulbs, therefore, was much more than a typical water heater…or a built-in dishwasher. In fact, for that amount of money, one could easily replace the water heater and the dishwasher in the average home and still have a few dollars left over. I suspect that negotiations during real estate transactions have become…heated…over far less dollar amounts than that.
I was left wondering whether or not the presence of those light bulbs had been considered as a value added to the home. Because, certainly, they do provide a long term value and benefit both in reduced energy consumption on a daily basis and on a replacement value basis as well since some of them may not have to be replaced for a very, very long time. Were those light bulbs going to be there when the new buyers moved in? Had they been a part of any discussion? From a Home Inspection perspective, if electricity flows and the light fixture functions when the wall switch is operated, then all is usually well.
At the end of the day, though, and on an entirely different level, I couldn’t help but wonder…do all of those expensive LED light bulbs convey with the sale of the property?
This original article was written by Gary Gentry, Owner of Quality Residential Inspections…your Raleigh Home Inspection firm, as a guest post for the good folks at Fonville Morisey Realty for publication in their Faces of Fonville blog. Fonville Morisey Realty is a leading real estate company, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, that provides a wide range of professional services to people engaged in the process of buying or selling a home.