15% of a home’s average energy bill comes from keeping your house lit. This significant chunk of your monthly bill that can be reduced by installing energy-efficient light bulbs instead of the traditional incandescent bulbs.
The traditional incandescent bulbs used in most houses are no longer manufactured. An EU programme started in 2018 began the phasing out of these traditional bulbs, halting production and allowing retailers to sell off their existing stock. While the reason for this change came mostly from an environmental standpoint, incandescent bulbs are also a huge waste of money. Only 10% of the energy required to power an incandescent bulb is used for lighting, with the rest wasted as heat.
These days, there is a wide variety of energy-efficient bulbs available in the UK, the two most common being Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and Compact Fluorescent lamps (CFLs). There are pros and cons to using either LEDs or CFLs and these will depend on how you are using them.
Compact fluorescent Lamps are the domestic version of the tube lighting you will already be familiar with.
Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, ENERGY STAR-qualified CFLs use 75% less energy and will last about 10 times longer. Thanks to these savings, CFLs tend to pay for themselves within nine months of installation, thanks to lower energy bills and the cost of replacing incandescent bulbs so regularly.
CFLs tend to come in similar shapes and sizes to traditional bulbs and come in a wide range of colours that can match the lighting you are already familiar with.
CFL bulbs should not be thrown away as they contain small amounts of mercury. This means they have to be recycled properly once they reach the end of their lifespan. Most CFL suppliers will provide a free recycling service for used bulbs.
Light Emitting Diodes are a type of semiconductor that can efficiently convert electricity directly to light. LEDs used to be used only used in appliances, indicators or traffic lights. As the semiconductor industry has grown, LEDs have become a lot easier to produce and can now be used on a widespread domestic scale.
ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs require around 20% to 30% less energy than incandescent bulbs, typically lasting up to 25 times longer. LEDs tend to come in a wider range of formats than CFLs, being used in recessed lighting fixtures, track lighting, desk lamps, undercabinet lighting and outdoor bulbs. Most non-standard lighting fixtures tend to use LEDs because of their versatility in size and power rating as well as being easily integrated into electronics.
Comparatively, LEDs are more expensive than CFLs to buy, but will still save you money in the long run thanks to their higher efficiency and increased lifespan.
The table below shows the average energy costs of CFL and LED bulbs compared to the traditional incandescent bulb. The annual energy costs are PER BULB, so adding up the savings for each bulb in the house will save your energy bill an average of £35 per year.
|Traditional Incandescent bulb (60 Watt)||CFL (15 Watt)||LED (12 Watt)|
|Energy Savings Compared to Incandescent Bulb (%)||n/a||~75%||~75%-80%|
|Annual Energy Cost||£3.71||£0.93||£0.77|
|Bulb Lifespan||1000 hours||10,000 hours||25,000 hours|
*Based on 2 hours of use/day at 9p /kWh rate
Installing more efficient lightbulbs is just one step in giving yourself a cheaper energy bill. You can save even more money by changing some of your habits and using some lighting control mechanisms.
Current trends towards ‘Smart Houses’ have seen more companies offering ‘Smart Bulbs’, making it possible for you to control all your lighting from a tablet, making it easier to save money by dimming lights and using less power.