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energy saving bulds

Over the last few years there have been big advances in the development of light bulbs. Many of us can still remember old style incandescent bulbs which were energy hungry.

Thankfully, these have now been replaced in many homes and buildings, firstly by CFL’s (compact fluorescent lamps) which use about 15% of the energy required by incandescent bulbs and now by LEDs which only use about 5%. Lights are left on for an average of 3.5 hours per day over the course of a year and by making a few small changes you can save a lot of energy and money.

Money saving tips

Running costs of light bulbs

The cost for purchase and powering each bulb type (per year) is:

Type of bulbTotal running cost per yearCO₂ (kg) imprint per yearLifespan (hours)
LED (10 Watts)£4.463.8kg50,000
CFL (25 watts)£11.809.6kg8,000
Halogen Spot (50 Watts)£22.4419kg2,000
Incandescent (80 Watts)£3830.6kg80

Cost to run each bulb type for 5 years (includes cost to replace bulbs if necessary)

Type of bulbCost to run per 5 yearsCO₂ imprint per 5 years (kg)
Halogen Spot£112.0095kg
In order from left to right – Incandescent, Halogen CFL, LED

Example of savings when swapping light bulbs

A common swap is to change Halogen spotlights to LEDs. For example by swapping 5 halogen spotlights to 5 LEDs you could save £101.00 per year = 76kg of CO₂.

Note – a 5W LED is equivalent to a 50W halogen

Cost of a 5W LED is about £2.00

Use the table above to check savings for other light bulbs.

It would take 42 old incandescent bulbs to last as long as just ONE new LED bulb, which over its 50,000 hours average life, would save you £1,290 (at todays electricity prices).

It would take 25 halogen spotlight bulbs to last as long as just ONE LED spotlight bulb, which over its 50,000 hours average life, would save you £448 (at todays electricity prices).

If every one of the 25 million homes in the UK replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an LED bulb, it would save £768 million per year, equivalent to 670 million kg of CO₂ (the same annual emissions as released by about 447,000 cars).

When purchasing new light bulbs, search for these money saving and environmentally friendly features.


Look for the lowest wattage bulbs for the lumen level required. This information will be on the packaging or website.


Use LED bulbs wherever possible and start saving money immediately!

Environmental tips

Global electricity

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), if everyone switched to efficient lighting systems, global electricity consumption would reduce by 10%.

Turn lights off

Turn lights off in rooms or parts of the house which are unoccupied. Teach your family (especially children!) and friends about it too and it will become second nature.

Motion sensors

Motion sensors can be a good way to keep lights turned off when they’re not needed and also an effective security device.

Timer switches

Use timer switches to turn lights on and off when needed.

Fluorescent tubes

Using new T8 triphosphor fluorescent tubes in place of T12 and T8 halophosphor tubes increases light levels and extends lamp life by up to 20,000 hours.

LED recycling

LED bulbs do not contain any mercury or lead so can be safely recycled, often at your local tip.


The most sustainable lighting is natural daylight which has well documented benefits including greater productivity in offices, better test results at school, increased sales in retail outlets, and of course, lower energy bills.

Recycling fluorescent bulbs and tubes

Fluorescent bulbs and tubes last a long time but contain a small amount of mercury. They definitely can’t be thrown out with the household rubbish and must be taken to your local recycling centre. Old style incandescent bulbs cannot be recycled and have to go to landfill.

Sunlight transportation

An emerging new technology is that of sunlight transportation. Sunlight is collected on roof panels and transported into a building via fibre optic cables for distances up to 15 metres.

Upcycling fluorescent tubes

If you have a large number of old fluorescent tubes and don’t know what to do with them, here’s the perfect idea! The Toronto based design collective known as Castor Canadensis create ceiling lights out of discarded old fluorescent tubes.