I am often asked to give advice on energy saving options in the showroom.
This home lighting energy saving guide is designed to inform you of the options currently available, together with an indication of the benefits to you.
Since the 2009 EU directive phasing out the manufacture and sales of incandescent light bulbs, we have seen a steady rise in the use of energy efficient lighting. In the following years we have seen a shift from these watt burning bulbs to halogen equivalents, saving around 30% energy and lasting twice as long. These were followed by compact fluorescent lamps which saved the consumer around 70% of electricity and lasted 8 times as long. Now we have readily available LED light bulbs, saving upwards of 90% of energy while lasting, in some cases, 20 times as long as your old-fashioned filament type bulbs.
The problem with the incandescent bulb was that less than 10% of the energy used was converted into light, with the remaining 90% lost as heat. As technology moved forwards, we found ways of converting more of the energy used into light output. Today, LED manufacturers have created a product which is barely warm to touch and emits dazzling bright light while using a fraction of the energy.
The Evolution of the light bulb
Traditional or incandescent light bulbs were invented more than 100 years ago and are extremely inefficient. Very little of the electricity they use converts into visible light. They have a shortened life as the fragile filament that creates the light evaporates as the heat passes through it.
Halogen bulbs use the same type of filament as incandescent bulbs but run at a higher temperature. This makes them slightly more efficient but they still suffer from a short life and lost heat.
Compact fluorescent lamps, also known as CFLs, were the first properly energy efficient bulbs on the market and use around 70% less electricity than the equivalent traditional bulbs, while lasting around 8 times longer. CFL bulbs work in the same way as fluorescent tubes whereby they have gas inside a glass tube that is charged with electricity until it glows. This results in a slow warm up time until full brightness is achieved. CFL bulbs were the first to give you colour options, initially being either warm white, white or cool white, finally giving the consumer the choice to have a bright kitchen or a cosy living room. On the downside, very few of these were dimmable and the initial cost was quite high.
LED light bulbs (Light emitting diodes) have now almost replaced CFLs, and are incredibly energy efficient. They instantly switch on at full brightness and are available to fit just about every light fitting in your home. LEDs produce light from the electricity flowing through them with next to no heat loss. They are produced in a wide range of shades of white including very warm white up to daylight. They are now incorporated into smart bulbs, allowing your smart assistant to change the hue or colour of a bulb with a simple voice command.
Integrated LED Light Fittings are now commonplace and are manufactured with a built-in array of LEDs giving you a truly energy saving fit-and-forget light fitting. Many of these are fitted with CCT (Colour changing temperature) technology. This means you can set the colour to warm white, cool white or daylight to suit the mood required in your room.
A simple way to further improve the energy efficiency of your home is to automate the switching of those LEDs. Here are a few suggestions. You can have your lights in rarely use spaces controlled with ceiling or wall mounted movement sensors which will switch the lights on when movement is detected and off again once the area is vacated after a set period of time. Outdoor lighting can be controlled with timer switches if you want your courtesy lights to switch off at a set time, so driveway lights or doorway lanterns won’t be on all night. Using a photocell switch connected to your outdoor security lighting will automatically turn them on at dusk and off at dawn, a great deterrent for unwanted guests.
Once you have confirmed that your LED bulbs or fittings are dimmable, you can connect a dimmer to your lighting circuit. The dimmer will need to be LED compatible and you will need to check the parameters of minimum and maximum watts and number of lamps of your dimmer switch. Your dimmer switch, when dimmed down, will then reduce the electricity flowing into your LED and therefore save you energy. This also enhances the life of your LEDs. We have put together a comprehensive guide to dimming here.
Benefits to the Consumer
Lower energy bills: Based on running a 10w LED light bulb for 10 hours per week, you can save £16* per bulb per year in energy costs compared to a 100w light bulb, or running a 5w LED spotlight bulb, you can save £8* per bulb per year based on a 50w halogen light bulb. *calculation based on 35p per kWh unit price.
Reduce your carbon footprint: For every traditional halogen bulb you switch to a similarly bright LED bulb you save around 5kg of CO2 emissions. By replacing all bulbs in your home with LED alternatives, that’s around 63kg of CO2 emissions saved.
New bulbs are relatively inexpensive to buy and will need replacing very rarely. With a lifespan of around 20,000 hours, some LED bulbs will last longer than the light fitting they are fitted into!
Shock and vibration have no effect on the lamp life. Filament and halogen bulbs suffered if they were knocked or if heavy vibration shook them from the floor above due to their fragile filaments, LEDs will withstand bumps and continue to function like new.
It is clear that we save energy, save money and reduce emissions by simply changing the type of light bulbs we use in our home lighting. This article was designed to enable the reader to be better informed in relation to what is available and the benefits of changing to each type.
If you need anything clarifying, there is something you would like to know that is not contained within this article or you simply require further information or advice, please contact us and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.