Energy efficient lighting helps lower electricity bills and carbon dioxide emissions, all without reducing the quality of light in our homes.
Since the EU banned the production of halogen bulbs in September 2018, the LED bulb has led the way in efficiency, durability and versatility. You can now buy LED bulbs for almost all fittings and sizes, so if you haven’t already, now is the time to make the switch to LED.
Here, we offer a quick guide to choosing energy efficient LED bulbs and consider some quick tips to reduce your lighting bill even further.
What is an LED?
Light emitting diodes, or LEDs are they are more commonly known, are more efficient than their predecessors: compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). CFLs were the first energy efficient bulbs on the market and use around 70-80% less electricity than the equivalent traditional bulbs.
LEDs then came along and have now largely replaced CFLs. They are more efficient, turn on instantly at full brightness, and are available to fit almost every light fitting in the home. An LED works by producing light from the electricity flowing through the bulb.
The numbers add up
In the UK, lighting makes up around 16% of total electrical use, accounting for 6% of a typical household’s energy bill if you include the cost of heating your home.
You can save between £1 and £4 per year for every traditional or halogen bulb you switch to an LED bulb with similar brightness. So, if the average household replaced all bulbs with LEDs, it would cost around £145 and save around £40 a year on bills.
If we look at one example, 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.
Choosing the right LED bulb
The packaging on LED bulbs contains a lot of information to help you choose the most suitable bulb for your needs and tastes.
Information often includes the bulb ‘colour’, as well as an estimate of the LED’s equivalent in wattage, for example 40W or 100W.
You might find that different bulb ‘colours’ are suitable for different rooms:
warm or soft is a yellow colour, ideal for bedrooms, living and dining rooms
cool bulbs offer a bluer, sharper light – you may prefer this in your kitchen, bathroom or office, where it helps to have good lighting
daylight is the ‘coldest’ of the colours and closest to pure white light – it’s often used by photographers for backlighting
While traditional and halogen bulbs used watts to explain brightness, LEDs use lumens to show how bright a bulb is. The higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb – for example, a bulb of 1,000+ lumens is equivalent to a 75-100W traditional bulb.
Look at the label
Other information included on the packaging of an LED bulb can help you choose the right light for your needs, at the same time as reducing your energy bill and carbon emissions:
energy saving potential
whether or not the bulb is dimmable
the voltage of the bulb
how long the bulb should last before needing replaced
the type of bulb fitting
the Kelvin number (eg 2700K), which measures the temperature of light
the Ingress Protection rating (eg IP 65), showing the degree of protection against dust, accidental contact and water
the beam angle in degrees, which tells you how wide an area the light covers
All LED bulbs are also given an energy rating, which is required by law. The current label grades the bulb on its energy consumption in kWh (units of energy used per hour). The less kWh use, the more efficient the appliance.
The energy label on light bulbs is set to replaced with a newer, updated version within the next year. Find out more about the new energy label, which will appear on some common household appliances from 1 March 2021.
Going the extra mile
The best way to save energy and reduce carbon emission from your lighting is to replace all traditional and halogen bulbs with LEDs. If you want to go one step further, the following tips will help you reduce your lighting bill even more:
turn your lights off when you’re not using them. If you switch a light off for just a few seconds, you will save more energy than it takes for the light to start up again
be aware of how many lights you have on in a room. If you have the main light on, do you need the lamp on too?
arrange light switches so it is easy to turn them off, for example, place switches for rooms at or near the door
use sensors or timers on external lights, so they are only on when they need to be
consider using transparent shades or fittings, as a dark lampshade can absorb some of the light a bulb emits
ensure that you regularly clean any lamp shades or fittings to increase the impact of the light