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Essential guide to energy efficient lighting

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Let’s explore the benefits of making the simple upgrade to energy-efficient lighting in your home. See how your choice of lighting can cut your bills and your carbon footprint.

Switching to energy-efficient lighting saves you money and helps the environment. Households in Northern Ireland can cut their carbon dioxide emissions by up to 50 kg and lower their electricity bills by using LED bulbs throughout the home.

Lighting is responsible for 11% of electricity consumption for the average household, so making the switch to LED bulbs could save you up to £3,000 a year on your electricity costs.

In this guide, we’ll explore advances in energy-efficient lighting, introduce the top choices for energy-efficient lighting in Northern Ireland, and guide you towards finding the option that helps you to make the biggest savings.

Article Contents

  • Traditional bulbs vs energy efficient lighting 

    • Traditional lighting

    • Energy efficient lighting 

  • Advantages of energy efficient lighting
  • How to choose energy efficient lighting
  • Practical lighting tips
  • Upgrade to energy efficient lighting with Power NI Perks
  • Further reading 

Traditional bulbs vs energy efficient lighting 

Lighting has changed a lot in recent years. Inefficient, traditional light bulbs are gradually being replaced by modern, energy-efficient alternatives that help to cut our energy usage. We’ll take a look at some of the older light bulbs that are becoming redundant and the new technologies that are growing in popularity. 

Traditional lighting
Traditional lighting refers to the sort of light bulbs we all used before the newer alternatives were developed. There are two main types of traditional light bulbs that you might recognise.

  • Incandescent Light Bulbs - The traditional light bulb, which was invented more than 100 years ago. They're incredibly inefficient — as little as 5% of the electricity they use is actually converted into visible light. They also have to be replaced regularly because the filament that creates light is evaporated by the heat that passes through it.

  • Halogen Light Bulbs - Halogen light bulbs were initially favoured as an upgrade on incandescent bulbs. They use the same technology but are slightly more efficient because they run at a higher temperature. They are gradually being taken off the market to encourage the move to more efficient options.

Energy efficient lighting 

Energy-efficient lighting is the new generation of light bulbs that have replaced traditional light bulbs. They offer increased energy efficiency, which reduces running costs and is better for the environment. There are two main types of energy-efficient bulbs:

  • Compact Flourescent Lamps (CFLs) - These are the bulbs that come to mind when you think of the first time you saw an energy saving light bulb. CFLs usually feature U-shaped or spiral glass tubes containing a gas that is charged with electricity to make it glow. They are up to 80% more efficient than traditional light bulbs.

  • Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) - LED light bulbs are now the most popular type of energy-efficient light bulbs. They are even more efficient than CFLs and work at full brightness as soon as they're turned on. They use 80% less energy than halogen bulbs but last five times longer.

Advantages of energy efficient lighting 

There are two main ways in which you’ll benefit from switching to energy-efficient lighting.

Energy-efficient lighting reduces your carbon footprint. Energy-efficient bulbs are more sustainable, last longer and are low in toxicity. They are highly efficient, which reduces carbon dioxide emissions from your household.

Energy-efficient lighting also saves you money on your electricity bills. The increased efficiency of CFLs and LED bulbs means you use far less electricity to create the same amount of light. Energy-efficient bulbs also have a longer lifespan, which saves you money on buying replacements.  

How to choose energy efficient lighting 

When you’re choosing the right type of energy-efficient lighting for your home there are three main considerations. You’ll need to think about bulb type, lumen and colour. Let’s explore all of the choices in more detail.

1.    Decide on lightbulb

Selecting the right bulb currently means choosing between the two main types of energy-efficient bulbs available on the market. These are light emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

LEDs are the most common type of energy-efficient light bulb. They’re also the most energy-efficient. As well as general household lighting, LED bulbs are suitable for replacing spotlights and dimmable lights, whereas CFL bulbs are not. LEDs are available in a wide range of different shapes and sizes. This includes designs that imitate incandescent bulbs as well as more contemporary designs.

CFLs generally have a more limited range of design choices —  typically either spirals or sticks. They don’t have a traditional bulb appearance and the designs tend to be less pleasing to the eye. They are suitable for general lighting or outdoor use. One key advantage of CFLs is that they are usually cheaper to buy than LED bulbs.

2.   Select a suitable lumen value

An energy-efficient bulb's brightness is measured by its lumen value. With traditional bulbs, you probably looked at the wattage to work out if a bulb was going to be bright enough for your room. 

But watts actually measure power consumption, not brightness. Since energy-efficient bulbs use less power, you can't really compare the wattage of an LED or CFL bulb with a traditional bulb. Instead, you need to look at the lumen value shown on the packaging.

To get the same level of brightness from an energy-efficient bulb as a 40-watt traditional bulb you need a lumen value of 470. For 60 watts, it's 800 lumens and for 100 watts it's 1,520 lumens.

3.    Consider bulb colour 

With energy-efficient light bulbs, the bulb colour is also an important factor. This is because low energy bulbs are designed to mimic different types of light from traditional bulbs. ‘Soft white’ or ‘warm white’ bulbs are suited to household lighting, while ‘cool white’ or ‘pure white’ offer the sort of illumination that’s useful for offices or rooms in which you need clear vision.

The warmth of light bulb colour is measured using the Kelvin scale. An energy-efficient bulb with a Kelvin score of 2,700 gives the same warmth as a traditional incandescent bulb.

Low energy bulbs also have a colour rendering index (CRI) score, which measures the effect the light has on how a colour looks. The CRI scale goes from 0 to 100. Any energy-efficient bulb with a CRI rating of 80 or above will make the colours in your room appear the same as they would in daylight.

Practical lighting tips

Replacing the bulbs in your home is the first step towards more energy-efficient lighting. How you use your new bulbs is also important. Follow these practical lighting tips to save even more money on your electricity bills.

  • Use timers and motion sensors to minimise the time that lights are in use, especially in rooms where lights are often accidentally left on.

  • Fit dimmer switches so that you can turn down the brightness and the amount of power you’re using.

  • Regularly dust and wipe down your light bulbs to increase their efficiency and help them to last longer.

  • Always turn lights off when leaving a room — no matter how soon you think you’ll be back — and fit switches near all entrances and exits to encourage others to do the same.

Upgrade to energy efficient lighting with Power NI

It’s even easier to upgrade to energy-efficient lighting with Power NI Perks. Power NI customers get exclusive discounts and cashback offers from retailers including Argos, Asda, B&M, B&Q, Sainsbury's and Tesco. You could save more than £11  on the cost of replacing your old bulbs.

Visit the Power NI Perks page to find out more about the offers available from each retailer.  Power NI Perks