You are here

Energy efficient lighting

energy efficient lightbulb

Lighting accounts for 18 per cent of a typical household’s electricity bill. You can cut your lighting bill and energy use by changing which bulbs you use and how you use them. Houses typically use a mixture of standard light fittings and downlighters or spotlight fittings. Energy efficient bulbs are available for both types of fittings. 

Which light bulbs are energy efficient? 

There are two main types of energy efficient light bulbs available in the UK. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).

CFLs are a cost-effective option for most general lighting requirements. Replacing a traditional light bulb with a CFL of the same brightness will save you about £3 per year, or £50 over the lifetime of the bulb.

LEDs are available to fit both types of fittings and are particularly good for replacing spotlights and dimmable lights. Though more expensive to buy initially, they are more efficient than CFLs and will save you more money in the long term. By replacing all halogen downlighters in your home with LED alternatives, you could save about £30 a year on your electricity bills.

What else can I do to save energy?

You can save money and energy by implementing control mechanisms and being conscious of how you use your lighting.

  • Always turn lights out when leaving a room, regardless of how long for.
  • Be conscious of how many lights you have on and whether they all need to be in use.
  • Arrange light switches so that its convenient to turn them off i.e. place switches at top and bottom of stairs, each end of a hallway and each door to a room.
  • Use a sensor and timer on external lights so they are only in use when they need to be.
  • Use appropriate lightings i.e. a low back ground light while watching television and a bright, concentrated light for reading. Having a range of lights in a room with separate switches will make this easier.

Review of old and new lighting technologies

Low energy lighting is becoming the norm as inefficient bulbs are phased out. Energy efficient lighting technology is developing quickly and a range of products are now available to choose from.

Lighting technology Description

Traditional light bulbs                                                                 

Traditional light bulbs, also known as tungsten filament, incandescent or GLS (General Lighting Service) bulbs were invented more than 100 years ago and are extremely inefficient. Only about 5 per cent of the electricity they use is converted into visible light. The filament is heated up until it glows giving off a yellowish white light. The bulbs do not last long because the filament gradually evaporates.
Halogen light bulbs

Halogen light bulbs also use filament technology but run at a higher temperature making them slightly more efficient than traditional light bulbs. They are mainly used in spotlight fittings. Though more efficient, they are often used in large quantities, increasing the total electricity used to light a room. The EU Commission started the phase-out of D and E-rated bulbs in September 2013.

Often rooms with halogen spotlights are brighter than they need to be so you may be able to save money by installing lower output bulbs. LEDs are an excellent energy efficient alternative.

Compact fluorescents (CFLs)

CFL technology uses gas inside a glass tube which is charged with electricity until it glows and gives off light.

They use about 75 to 80 per cent less electricity than equivalent traditional bulbs and can last up to ten times longer. They are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and ranges of colour rendering capacity

CFLs are great for replacing standard home light fittings. Spotlight bulbs are available but not widely and tend to be more expensive.

Strip lights or Linear Fluorescent Lamps (LFLs)

Strip lights use the same technology as CFLs but the tubes are shaped longer and flatter. They are more efficient, faster to light up and emit a better quality of light than traditional strip lights.

Strip lights are not often used in homes but can be a good choice for places where bright light is required, such as in kitchens or above bathroom mirrors. A modern slim tube fitted in a good reflector mounting is the most efficient option.

LEDs

LEDs are simple solid state electronic devices that allow electricity to flow through them in one direction to produce a small amount of light.

Bulbs for domestic use contain a large number of LEDs so that a bright enough light is emitted. LED like-for-like replacements for halogen downlighters are now available from specialist suppliers and some retail chains. They are still expensive, but they are the most efficient option and pay for themselves several times over before they need replacing.

Light fittings and shades

A dark lamp shade can absorb more than half the light a bulb emits which can reduce the efficiency of your lighting. You can save energy and money by using transparent shades or fittings that you regularly clean. 

Light fittings with a reflective inside can increase efficiency if concentrated, directional light is required. Spotlight fittings often have this reflective inside. Halogen spotlights and LEDs do not require a reflective fitting as the reflective surface is incorporated into halogen bulbs while LEDs give out directional light by default.

Some light fittings are designed to be used with CFLs only, however the tube-only CFL that you need for these fittings is more expensive by comparison to ordinary CFLs.

 

Who's phasing out inefficient light bulbs?

The Government, together with retailers and energy companies are working to phase out inefficient light bulbs across the UK. Light bulb manufacturers are changing their factories to produce enough energy saving light bulbs to meet the growing global demand.

As in the UK, the European Commission is also phasing out inefficient light bulbs. All traditional filament bulbs have been banned within the EU, and by 2016 all bulbs, including retrofit halogens will have to be classified as B or above.