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Energy saving lighting buying guide
Choosing the correct energy saving lighting
We should all be concerned about how we treat the environment around us as it is estimated that in the UK alone we waste over £140 million in energy bills per year by leaving lights on unnecessarily. In order to consume less power, cause less pollution and lower our bills we should all consider choosing energy saving lighting and energy saving bulbs.
Energy saving lamps
Energy saving lamps will save you money because they cost less to run and need to be replaced less frequently than ordinary light bulbs.
They work in the same way that a fluorescent tube works. An electric current is passed through the gas filled glass bulb which causes the coating inside to glow brightly and fluoresce. Because these bulbs don’t contain an electric filament they stay cool when lit, unlike tungsten bulbs where the filament can reach 2000ºC. Because energy is used to generate light, rather than heat, they are up to 80% cheaper to run.
Although the initial cost for the bulb is more expensive, these bulbs save money in the long run especially when used in areas of the home where the lights will be left on for long periods, such as hallways and landings.
Temperatures below zero can adversely affect the bulbs performance so steer clear of using them in the colder parts of your home.
Will energy saving bulbs take longer to light up?
A common complaint is that energy saving light bulbs do not light up instantaneously and the light is sometimes dimmer. The slight delay in lighting up is because the coating inside the tube takes a short while to start fluorescing or glowing and reach full brightness - unlike a tungsten bulb where the filament lights up the moment it’s switched on. These bulbs are being constantly developed and the ‘lag’ is getting less and less noticeable in newer bulbs.
Choosing a lamp
Low energy lamps are available with a traditional bulb shape or a mini-tube shape where the bulb is made up of one or more mini tubes.-Both bulb styles operate in the same way and use the same amount of energy, it’s just a matter of taste which one you prefer the look of.
Recycling energy saving lamps
Although the amount of mercury in a low energy bulb could fit on the tip of a ballpoint pen, because of its hazardous nature, used low-energy bulbs need to be recycled rather than put in the bin.
All energy saving light bulbs (CFLs) should be treated as hazardous waste and should not be disposed of in the bin. All local councils have an obligation to make arrangements for the disposal of household hazardous waste at a civic amenity site or household waste recycling centre.
Although the accidental breakage of a lamp is most unlikely to cause any health problems, it’s good practice to minimise any unnecessary exposure to mercury, as well as risk of cuts from glass fragments.
Revised advice issued by the Health Protection Agency* is to:
Ventilate the room
Wipe the area with a damp cloth, place that in the plastic bag and seal it
Sticky tape (e.g. duct tape or similar) can be used to pick up small residual pieces or powder from soft furnishings and then placed in a sealed plastic bag. The plastic bag doesn't need to be air tight, but should be reasonably sturdy.
Place it in another, similar bag and seal that one as well (this minimises cuts from broken glass).
The public should contact the local authority for advice on where to dispose of broken or intact CFLs as they should be treated as hazardous waste and should not be disposed of in the bin. All local councils have an obligation to make arrangements for the disposal of household hazardous waste at a civic amenity site or household waste recycling centre. The National Household Hazardous Waste Forum runs a website with details of these centres for chemicals, but which also applies to other hazardous wastes (www.chem-away.org.uk*). Alternatively contact your local council direct.
* Homebase is not responsible for the content of external websites
Which wattage will you need?
The higher the wattage the more light the bulb will produce and the more power it consumes. Wattage is not a measure of brightness because different bulb types are more or less efficient in converting electrical power into light, however, if you have two bulbs that are the same shape, style and brand and one has a higher wattage than the other, then it will be brighter.
When replacing standard tungsten bulbs with low energy bulbs, the following chart will help you to select the correct wattage bulb.
Know your wattage
Energysaver - Standard
11 & 12w
18 & 20w
Bayonet or screw fittings
The type of light fitting you have will dictate the style and size of light bulb you require. There are a number of different fittings: Bayonet cap (BC), Small Bayonet cap (SBC), Edison screw (ES or E27) and Small Edison Screw (SES or E14). Bayonet lamps are fitted by pushing into place and turning to secure, whilst screw fittings are simply screwed into place.
|BC||Bayonet cap fitting|
|SBC||Small bayonet cap fitting|
|ES (or E27)||Edison screw fitting|
|SES (or E14)||Small Edison screw fitting|
Doesn't switching lights on and off use more energy than leaving them running?
In normal household use, switching a low energy bulb on and off shouldn't shorten its life, however leaving it on for a stabilising period of 10-15 minutes will help it last as long as possible. Traditional light bulbs should be switched off every time you leave a room unoccupied as in the UK £140 million a year is wasted by leaving lights on unnecessarily.
Do traditional bulbs give a better quality of light?
For technical reasons, the glass used in the manufacture of household energy saving light bulbs has to be opaque, not transparent like that used in many traditional bulbs. It’s therefore not a fair comparison to compare the light emitted from an opaque bulb with that of a clear bulb. When like for like are compared you won’t see a difference in brightness.
Can I use a low energy bulb with a dimmer switch?
No. Most energy saving bulbs aren't fully compatible with dimmer switch circuits and fitting one will cause the bulb to flicker continuously. Currently there is only fully dimmable energy saving bulb, but more are likely to be developed as the popularity of these bulbs increases.
Are traditional tungsten bulbs being banned?
There is a government proposal for a voluntary phasing out of the traditional light bulb between now and 2011 to give retailers time to develop replacement products.
Energy efficient lighting
As energy efficient light bulbs are available in a huge range of different sizes, wattages and styles, any light fitting, once fitted with these bulbs, can be deemed energy efficient. Some lighting ranges come complete with energy saving lamps fitted as standard.
Homebase buyers' tips
'Some mini-tube bulbs are a little longer than ordinary energy efficient lamps and may look unsightly if they are visible either above or below a shade. If this is the case a more traditional shaped low energy bulb may look more attractive.’