Why?

Changing lightbulbs is perhaps the easiest way to save energy in the home and can deliver significant savings.

What?

Incandescent lightbulbs are still very common in homes, especially in recessed spotlights (halogen bulbs). They are very cheap to buy but extremely inefficient, wasting 98% of the energy they use as heat. As a result they are expensive to run and may only last a year or two before needing replacement.

Energy-saving lightbulbs are available in two main types – compact fluorescent bulbs and the newer LED bulbs.

Compact fluorescent bulbs are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs and are now relatively cheap to buy. On the downside, they can be slow to reach full brightness and some types can look a little utilitarian. They also do not always last as long as predicted especially in enclosed fittings where they can overheat. Typical lifetimes are 4-8 years.

LED bulbs are even more efficient than compact fluorescent bulbs and have the advantages of switching on immediately at full brightness as well as resembling traditional bulbs more closely. LED bulbs are available in a variety of colour temperatures, with "warm white" bulbs being closest to incandescent bulbs in tone. Neutral and cool/daylight white bulbs are also available, but these can look stark and clinical in the home environment. Early LED bulbs could not be used with dimmers, but newer ones can be. Typical lifetimes are 15-25 years.

Costs and savings

Good quality bulbs are available from around £5 upwards. It's worth sticking with well-known lighting brands (e.g. Osram, Sylvania, Philips and Megaman) for quality and reliability.

When replacing incandescent bulbs you can expect to save around £5 per year for a light used for 3 hours a night on average. Therefore replacement bulbs can pay for themselves in as little as one year.

WinACC November 2014

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