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Energy saving light bulbs

Energy saving light bulbs

As inefficient light bulbs continue to be phased out in the UK, you may need help deciding which energy-saving bulb is right for your home.

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You'd be hard-pressed to find halogen or incandescent bulbs on the shelves these days; instead, more and more energy saving light bulbs are on offer.

These newer bulbs are often more expensive, so it's helpful to know what the difference between the new energy-efficient light bulbs and older models is and how much can they save you on your energy bill.

Well, we’ve got the answers right here.

Why are we all moving to energy efficient light bulbs?

In a bid to meet their carbon reduction targets, the British government, and governments across the EU, have been phasing out inefficient light bulbs.

Read more about these targets in our carbon footprint guide.

Now, in most major supermarkets and hardware stores, your only choice is to buy energy efficient light bulbs, although you may still be able to find older models in some corner stores.

What are the types of energy saving light bulbs?

There are two main types of energy saving light bulbs: compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

CFLs are the most common, and are the closest thing to a direct replacement for old light bulbs. These types of bulbs are recommended for general and outdoor lighting of your home.

LEDs are recommended for more specific lighting purposes including crystal chandeliers, spotlights and dimmable switches.

Will energy saving bulbs help the energy efficiency of my home?

Yes. The most likely replacement for your existing bulbs though will be the CFL bulbs, which typically last for around 8,000 hours and use about a quarter as much energy as traditional light bulbs.

So you will use about 75% less energy per bulb. Energy saving LEDs have even greater energy efficiency, using an estimated 80% less energy. There are few other upgrades that you can make to your home that will improve its energy efficiency to this degree.

Will they save me money?

Yes. Compared to traditional 60W light bulbs, a standard energy saving bulb (the CFL variety) will save you about £7 a year. That may not sound like much, but count how many bulbs you have in your property. A typical home will have around 10 bulbs, if not more, which means an annual saving of £70, as well as the benefit of knowing you’re reducing your carbon emissions.

LED bulbs are even more efficient — so you’ll save more — but they’re also more expensive. However, with a life expectancy of between 20 and 30 years (or 25,000 hours of use) you’ll save a lot of money in the long run.

What’s more, most LED bulbs come with a warranty of between two and four years, so you don’t have to worry about buying a dud.

Choosing the right energy saving light bulb

Picking the right bulb is no different to picking out a traditional light bulb, just make sure the fitting or ‘cap’ matches what’s in your home. However, as energy saving bulbs emit a different colour than traditional bulbs, there are a few other things to be aware of.

If you want a similar warm colour to your old light bulbs, look for the phrase 'warm white' on the box. The colour temperature should also be shown on the pack in Kelvins (K); the lower the value, the warmer the colour. To provide some reference, old, 60W lightbulbs have a 2700K rating. Likewise, the brightness will depend partially on how strong your bulb is, or how many watts it uses. For a 60W bulb, look for between 13W and 18W for CFL bulbs, or 12W to 14W if you’re using LEDs.

What other things should I be aware of?

As has been well publicised, most energy saving bulbs take longer to reach full brightness than traditional bulbs. But that doesn’t mean they are less effective at lighting a room. In fact, most newer models of bulb light almost as quickly as traditional models, and LED light bulbs are very quick to light up.

Disposing of old light bulbs

CFL light bulbs contain a tiny bit of mercury, which means you have to dispose of them carefully. Large DIY stores and some supermarkets offer specialised recycling points.

Want more energy saving devices that cost less than £25? Read our Energy saving tips for under £25.

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