According to the Energy Saving Trust, lighting typically makes up 18 percent of annual household bills. Switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest and most effective ways to reduce energy bills.
Will Energy-Saving Lighting Really Save?
One of the reasons that people do not switch to energy-saving lighting is the initial expense. Although the initial investment in energy-saving lighting is higher than regular bulbs, it will save money in the long term.
To put this into figures, a typical energy-saving bulb costs roughly £3 but will save you £7 a year. This means that you will recover your initial cost within a few months. Switching can generate significant savings if used throughout a home.
Energy-saving lighting is most efficient in areas where the lights are on for the longest period of time. However, it is still worth your money to install efficient bulbs in rooms where the lights are switched off more regularly.
Types of Lighting
Traditional bulbs, known as incandescent bulbs, have been banned in the European Union to encourage more efficient energy usage. Traditional halogens are expected to be banned by 2018.
Low-energy lighting will be the only choice when these changes have taken place. The good news is that there are many options. The most popular are light-emitting diodes (LEDs), compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and halogen incandescence as outlined below:
LEDs are semiconductors that convert energy into light. Typically, a regular LED bulb costs around £8. Converting from a traditional halogen light to an LED equivalent will save over £100 over the bulb lifecycle. LEDs are the most cost-efficient option because of their incredibly long lifecycle of up to 30 years.
CFLs are the most common type of energy-efficient bulb. The light emitted is created using gas rather than an electrical current and a wire filament used in traditional lighting. They do not produce as much heat as incandescent bulbs and are therefore much more efficient.
Switching from a traditional bulb to a CFL of the same brightness could save you approximately £7 a year, and £70 over the life of the bulb. The typical cost is around £3 and most of the bulbs claim to last at least 10 to 15 years.
Halogens generally use 20 to 30 percent less energy than traditional bulbs. Comparing this saving to LEDs and CFLs, you will not save as much. In addition to the lower saving, halogens have a significantly shorter life to other energy saving bulbs, around 2 years compared to the average 10 years.
Halogens are still popular because they look similar to an incandescent bulb. They can be more attractive than CFLs and are often used in feature lighting with exposed bulbs.
If you are looking to replace an incandescent 60 watt bulb with a similar brightness, you will need to get a 42 watt halogen, a 12 watt CFL or a 10 watt LED. Bulbs range from 25 watts to 100 watts in old terms. Knowing what wattage and brightness you generally use will help you understand what bulb to buy.
There are different coloured bulbs, ranging from bright white to blue light. Manufacturers often refer to this as the ‘colour temperature’, which is the colour note that the bulb produces. The most common is warm white because is the closest colour to the yellowy light of a traditional bulb.
There are a range of styles including bayonet and screw cap bulbs as well as bulbs suitable for timers and dimmers. Not all bulbs are dimmable, so make sure to check the specifications before you buy. LEDs may not work with traditional dimmer switches and you may need to install an LED-compatible dimmer.
Where to Purchase
Bulbs are available from DIY and retail stores. The quality of energy-saving bulbs can vary widely. When choosing your bulbs, look for the blue energy-saving logo. Manufacturers with this logo adhere to the strict regulations and guidelines set out by the Government and the Energy Saving Trust.
LEDs and halogens can be disposed of in general waste, but CFLs can contain a small amount of mercury. These can be recycled at recycling sites or at some retailers, for example at Ikea, Sainsbury’s and Homebase. Check your local store for more details.
If you are still not convinced that energy-saving light will save you over the long term, there are more scientific methods to test how much energy you can save. Energy monitors can tell you how much electricity you use and how much it costs. Using a monitor before and after switching to energy-saving lighting will tell you exactly how much you have saved.