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Let the light shine in with energy efficient lighting

•  Low energy lighting now dominates the market
•  Many types of fittings available
•  Our guide helps you make an informed choice

Energy efficient lighting is now pretty much the norm.

Vast improvements in product performance, as low-energy options have become mainstream, mean that these days there are very few voices of dissent when older types of lighting are taken off sale.

2016 was the latest leg of the EU's light bulb phase-out, and it meant the end for halogen spotlights. Next year, non-directional halogens will be phased out.

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LEDs lead the way

So what’s the best product choice to make to replace older bulbs? In most cases, there is a clear winner – and it’s the LED.

Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs, or CFLs, were the first energy efficient bulbs on the market. But even though models are vastly better than they were 10 years ago, LEDs have developed much more quickly than expected and can generally offer the best efficiency, measured in lumens per Watt, plus greater flexibility – all at not much cost difference.

Halogens vs. LEDs: the facts

Light bulbsThe possible long-term advantages of switching to LEDs are considerable. With the current focus being on replacing halogens, let’s look at some figures by way of comparison.

The superior all-round performance of LEDs can be illustrated by the fact that a 50 Watt halogen spotlight can be replaced with a 5 Watt LED. And that’s before you’ve considered the cash savings.

A 5W LED light will cost you around 70p a year to run compared to £7 for a 50W halogen. The average running costs of an LED replacement for a 75W incandescent bulb will be around £1.60 annually, compared to £7.31 for a halogen replacement.

LEDs also last for up to 25 years, compared to around two for halogens. This means that over the lifetime of a bulb, the ongoing cost savings really will stack up.

In terms of up-front cost, LED spotlights are down around the £5 mark now. LEDs in the classic lamp shape, for non-directional use, are still a bit more expensive than halogens, but you can now get good-quality bulbs for under £10 that will pay for themselves within two years. By the time the phase-out kicks in next year, you can expect even cheaper models on the market,

Fit for purpose

Fitting a spotlight light bulb

These days there are few limits to where you can use LEDs to replace halogens, CFLs and incandescent bulbs. You can get LEDs for all types of spotlights, lamps and integrated light fittings – including some more niche shapes such as thin, linear lighting.

Replacements for traditional bayonet bulbs are still widely available from most manufacturers, although the Edison screw fitting is becoming more common. This exists in both large and small screw types. Fittings with two pins (GU10, usually for mains voltage spots and GU5.3 for operating at low voltages) are very common, particularly for spotlights – and these come in larger and smaller sizes, with the pins different distances apart. 

There is also much greater compatibility with dimmers across product ranges of low energy lighting such as LEDs. It’s worth checking compatibility with the kind of dimmer you've got. Most staff in retailers where LEDs and other efficient lighting options are available should be able to advise you on this.


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Setting the right tone in your home

Kitchen lighting

In the home, often there are other factors beyond the fitting to consider, such as colour and ambience.

Colour temperature is measured in kelvin (K). The colour temperature preferred in UK homes tends to be 2800K, or warm white, and it's what you'll need when replacing halogens.

There are rooms where practicality more than fashion comes into play. A more yellow tone of light is generally preferred in sleeping areas. A higher kelvin, with cooler light, might be desired in bathrooms or where a more natural light is desired. Kitchens tend to need areas of concentrated light for intricate tasks. Here, it’s important to note the luminous intensity of LEDs for spotlighting, which is measured in candela.

While knowing your lumens is important when it comes to LED performance, colour rendering – how vivid colours look on objects when the light hits them—is also important. The higher the CRI (colour rendering index) rating, the more vivid colours will look.

Peruse the packaging

Shopping for light bulbs

A good place to start in making the right choices for your home's needs is to decide what you are looking to achieve in each room, and then take a look at the packaging of bulbs. It includes all the information about the light output, and if you still prefer to think in Watts, it will include a comparison to an incandescent bulb of the same brightness. 

The packaging will also include the colour temperature and important aspects such as dimmer compatibility. For spot lighting, the spread of light is denoted by the beam angle, another consideration to ensure you have the coverage you want.

Get the best you can afford

Different light bulb options

To realise the significant energy and money savings while ensuring pleasant lighting effects, it’s important to buy good quality brands and products. With greater ranges than ever before, it becomes all the more important to be able to navigate the market.

So what should consumers look for when shopping for lighting products such as LEDs?

First and foremost, take a look at what bulbs are featured in Topten UK – which includes just those in the A+ rating band and now some that achieve A++. The costs may come as a pleasant surprise. You can get a Topten 50W halogen replacement from a reputable manufacturer for under £5 now.

There are also some good smaller entrants to market recently, so it's worth asking for advice in-store when you're making a purchase, or looking at online reviews before you buy.

Look out for more blogs on designing the best lighting effects for your home using low energy lighting.

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, or tweet us directly @EnergySvgTrustMake sure to follow @Top10Energy for the latest energy efficient products.

Gary Hartley's picture
Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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Any tests of longevity? I fitted a lot of CFLs about 4-5 years ago. I marked a few with the date of installation and how long they were meant to last.
Tesco and Philips branded. All are growing dim. Many have failed. Checked the date of a recent failure and it had only lasted 4 years. And wasn't used much. Guess of 15-30 minutes per day. Maybe 3000 hours but probably a lot less. Estimated lifetime was 10 years or 10,000 hours.
Replacing them with LED now. Marker pen on some of them.

Great article. The current choice of lighting is very confusing and this blog really helps to understand it.

Hello Stuart,

Thanks for getting in touch. We've spoken with our lighting expert, who has advised the following:

Longevity is certainly an important factor for lighting. We’re sorry to hear you had a bad experience with CFLs. We have been aware of some lower quality CFL products that hit the market during the last 10 years, although there did seem to be an overall quality improvement as time went on.

While LED is a superior technology that has many benefits, some people also experienced difficulties in the early days with low-quality, often cheaper imported products.

Unfortunately, independent testing on lifetime will always be imperfect, as products are usually off the market by the time you’ve been able to prove over 15,000 hours lifetime in the lab. The LIA Verified product certification scheme does address this by conducting life verification tests at 2,000 hours as well as an initial screening to spot problems early. 

With LED light bulbs, we’d always recommend selecting products from a reputable manufacturer with a good warranty period, and we are encouraged that the drop in price over the last couple of years, including for the better quality bulbs, will make them accessible to more people to benefit from the cost savings. 

We hope yours perform as they should. In the meantime, learn more about scheme verification and watch this space for more blogs on lighting.

Thanks again.

EST Team