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Getting the best out of your LED lighting

 

Row of incandescent lightbulbs with final LED bulb illuminated

How many light bulbs have you bought since September 1, 2018?

Time flies and not many people record their light bulb consumption. The chances are you’ve bought fewer bulbs because that was when the EU-wide ban on importing and producing halogen bulbs came into place.

Shops are allowed to sell their old halogen stock - which is why you can still find them – and there are still specialist halogen bulbs in security lights, ovens and cooker hoods.

Yet it is the versatile LED bulb that is leading the way in efficiency, durability and versatility, too.

Why buying LED bulbs makes sense

Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs were among the first energy-efficient alternatives. Early adopters grumbled about its cold light and the length of time it took to illuminate.

The LED bulb followed and has overtaken the CFL and now confidently leads the market - you can get LED bulbs for almost all fittings and sizes.

Brian Horne is a Senior Insights & Analytics Consultant at Energy Saving Trust.

He said: “LEDs use less energy and cost you a lot less in the long run. There is not a huge difference in price, they last longer so you won’t need to keep buying replacements. It makes complete sense to buy LED bulbs.”

A traditional halogen bulb lasts around two years, based on three hours’ daily use, around 2,000 hours.

An LED under similar conditions lasts 10,000 hours upwards, for 10 years or longer.

Saving money with LED bulbs

In the UK, lighting accounts for 15 per cent of a typical household’s electricity bill.

You can save £2-3 per year for every traditional halogen bulb you switch to a similarly bright LED bulb (see our table below for more).

If the average UK household replaced all of their bulbs with LEDs, it would cost about £100 and save about £40 a year on bills.

Replacing a 50W halogen with an LED equivalent could cut your energy costs by £75 over the lifetime of the bulb – not including the price all the replacement halogen bulbs you no longer need to buy;  of a typical LED costs between £2.50-12.

Potential savings

All savings based on replacing halogen or incandescent bulbs for equivalent LEDs.

 

Saving carbon emissions with LED blubs

For every traditional halogen bulb you switch to a similarly bright LED bulb you save around 5kg of CO2 emissions.

By replacing all bulbs in your home with LED alternatives, that’s around 63kg of CO2 emissions.

If all 28 million homes in Britain switched to 100% LED bulbs, we could save 1.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

LED buying guide – what to look for

close up of hands changing an LED light bulb

Most LED bulbs’ packaging contains a lot of information to help you choose the most suitable bulb - everyone’s tastes are different.

Packs often state the bulb ‘colour’ and give an approximation of the LED’s equivalent in wattage e.g. 40W or 60W or 100W.

Warm is a yellow colour, ideal for bedrooms, living and dining rooms.

Cool gives a bluer, sharper light. You may prefer this in kitchens, bathrooms and office spaces, where you need good illumination to perform tasks.

Daylight is the ‘coldest’ and close to pure white light, often used by professional photographers for backlighting.

Drilling down, you can also find:

Kelvin: This relates to colour: 2,700K or lower matches the warm tones of a traditional bulb.

Lumens: This shows how bright the blub is – the higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb. A bulb of 1,000+ lumens is equivalent to a 75-100W traditional bulb.

Beam angle: Most household bulbs will be wide-angle; you may want a narrower spotlight for desk lamps, uplighting and so on.

Changing colour

Some people say LEDs make colours change hue. If you’ve checked all the above and have issues, it could be due to a low colour rendering of the LED bulb. This is not a very common problem with the latest LEDs; look for a bulb with a higher colour rendering to make colours more nuanced.

Brian said: “If you don’t like the light the bulb emits, just send it back or exchange it.”

What next for LED

Many security lights, floodlights and decorative lighting still use halogen bulbs as standard.

Brian concluded: “There are LED alternatives available and there is no reason not to use them.

“They may not be as easy to find in the shops but they are out there and it’s worth looking around online, or asking the shop owners to order them in for you. There are energy and money savings to be made.”

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Tom Shearman's picture
Tom Shearman brings 25 years' of journalism experience to the Energy Saving Trust blogging team. He loves writing about renewables and energy efficiency, plus how policy can change people and the environment. His articles have been published internationally, he has co-written trekking guide books, responsible travel articles and short stories.