Skip to main content

You are here

Energy efficient lighting

Also in this section

Lighting accounts for 15 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).

Both CFLs and LEDs are a cost-effective option for most general lighting requirements. Replacing a halogen light bulb with an LED of the same brightness will save you up to £2 per year.

LEDs are available to fit most fittings and are particularly good for replacing spotlights and dimmable lights, they are more efficient than CFLs and will save you more money in the long term. By replacing all bulbs in your home with LED alternatives, you could save about £40 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 off 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 and are often used in large quantities, increasing the total electricity used to light a room. You may be able to save money by installing energy efficient bulbs such as LEDs. The EU Commission started the phase-out of D and E-rated halogen bulbs in September 2013.


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 used and tend to be more expensive - LED spots are a better option for this.

Strip lights or Linear Fluorescent Lamps (LFLs)

Strip lights use the same technology as CFLs but the tubes are shaped longer and flatter. Modern strip lights 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.

Light Emitting Diode  (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 replacements are available for most light fittings, and are particularly suitable for replacing spotlights and dimmable lights and more and more options for LED main ceiling bulb replacements are coming on to the market.

LED prices have come down a lot over the last few years and now offer the best value for money.

Light fittings and shades

A dark lamp shade can absorb some of 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.

What about the phase out of inefficient light bulbs? 

All traditional incandescent bulbs have been banned with the EU, and a programme of phasing out halogens has been in place since September 2018. 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.