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Energy saving light bulbs

Love them or hate them energy saving light bulbs are here to stay. British retailers must have phased out traditional incandescent light bulbs and only sell low-energy fluorescent bulbs by 2012 in response to the Eco Design of Energy-using Products Directive which was passed in December 2008. 

Energy saving light bulbs

Green bulbsLighting accounts for 8% of a typical household’s energy bills: cutting your lighting bill is one of the easiest ways to save energy and money in the home.

Whether you rent or own your property, or live in a house, flat or bungalow, you can save money today by changing the way you use your lights and by fitting new energy-saving lights.

if you replace a traditional light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb of the same brightness you will typically save around £3 per year, or £50 over the life of the bulb. If you replace a halogen downlighter with an equivalent LED you will typically save around £4 per year, or £14 0 by the time you have to replace the bulb.

As mlightbulbs are produced, manufacturers will be able to make them more efficiently so energy saving light bulbs will become even cheaper. Already we are seeing bulbs available in a wide range of shapes so the only difference you'll notice is a drop in your electricity bills.

The following generic types are available:

  • Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) - these are the most common energy saving light bulbs and come in stick shape, candle shape, small or medium screw and bayonet fittings. They use 60%-80% less energy than incandescent bulbs, the most widely available and cheapest energy saving light bulbs.
  • Energy saving halogen light bulbs - a good option if you have halogen lights in your home. They consume around 30% less electricity than standard halogen bulbs.
  • LED lights - these have progressed rapidly in recent years and can now be used to replace existing halogen spotlights.These are the most expensive but also most efficient types, but can last for 25 to 30 years and use 90% less energy than incandescents. They are much cheaper than they used to be and can now be found for around £10.

More information about the range and technical specification of bulbs is available from the Energy Saving Trust.

Many homes today use a mixture of standard light fittings and halogen downlighters or spotlights (mainly in kitchens and bathrooms). There are low-energy alternatives for both these types of light:

  • Compact fluorescents (CFLs) – these are what most people think of as an energy-efficient light bulb. A cost-effective option for most general lighting purposes, and now widely available.
  • LEDs – even more efficient, and the ideal replacement for halogen downlighters. More expensive than CFLs but save even more money in the long term.

Of course, the easiest way to save on your lighting bill is simply to turn off the light when you’re not using it. You will ALWAYS save energy if you turn the light out when you leave the room, even if it’s only for a minute or two.

Bulbs suitable for use with dimmers

There are a number of different types of dimmer switches. A lamp’s suitability for use with dimmers, or with some types of dimmer, should be mentioned on the box.

Frequently asked questions

Don't energy-saving lightbulbs take a long time to light up?

Originally they did, but most modern energy saving bulbs take little more than a few seconds to warm up to full brightness.

Producing an energy-saving bulb must take more energy in the first place than making a standard bulb. At the end of the day, doesn't that make it inefficient?

An energy saving bulb may indeed take more energy to make than a traditional bulb. But the energy saved by the bulb over its lifetime far outweighs this energy consumption. This applies even more to LED lighting where bulbs can last for 50,000 hours, 50 times as long as incandescent bulbs

Don't traditional bulbs give a better quality of light?

The light quality of CFLs and LEDs does vary.  If you want a light that looks the same as a traditional bulb, buy a "warm white" or "soft white" bulb, with a Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of at least 80. You should find the CRI somewhere in the small print on the packaging.

More information visit the Energy Saving Trust website