Choosing energy efficient products

Energy saving products use less energy and cost less to run. Products which carry the energy saving logo all meet strict energy efficiency criteria set by the Energy Saving Trust and are backed by the Government. Using energy-saving light bulbs is another great way to cut down your energy usage.

Energy Saving Trust Recommended label

Appliances showing the Energy Saving Trust Recommended label are among the top 20 per cent most efficient available.

Energy label rates

The European Union (EU) energy label rates products from A to G in terms of energy use, with A being the most efficient and G being the least efficient. By law the label must be shown on all fridges/freezers, laundry appliances, electric ovens and light bulbs.

Next time you are upgrading an appliance look for the EU rating and buy as close to the A as you can afford.

Remember even if an A rated appliance is slightly more expensive, you will save the difference many times over the lifetime of the appliance as it uses less electricity. The most efficient products will also display the energy saving logo.

Energy saving light bulbs

One of the ways you can save energy in your home is to use energy saving light bulbs. These can last up to 10 times longer than traditional bulbs and can save you money on your electricity bills.

Disadvantages of traditional light bulbs

Traditional light bulbs are very inefficient at converting electricity to light, as they waste 95 per cent of the electricity they use in creating heat.

This wasted energy adds to your carbon footprint. That means that reducing the energy you use to light your home will not only save you money but also help save the planet.

To help reduce the UK’s carbon emissions, traditional light bulbs are gradually being withdrawn from sale.

Types of energy saving light bulbs

There are two main types of energy efficient light bulbs available in the UK. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).

CFLs are a cost-effective option for most general lighting requirements. Replacing a traditional light bulb with a CFL of the same brightness will save you about £3 per year, or £45 over the lifetime of the bulb.

LEDs are available to fit both types of fittings and are particularly good for replacing spotlights and dimmable lights. Though more expensive to buy at first, they are more efficient than CFLs and will save you more money in the long term. By replacing all halogen downlighters in your home with LED alternatives, you could save about £40 a year on your electricity bills.

How to recycle energy saving light bulbs

Energy saving light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury – just enough to cover the tip of a ballpoint pen. You must, therefore, be careful of how you recycle/dispose of CFL bulbs. You should not throw them into your normal rubbish or household recycling bins as these bulbs are classified as hazardous waste.

In most parts of Northern Ireland, CFL bulbs can be recycled at your local household waste recycling centre. You can find your nearest recycling centre by contacting your local council:

How to deal with a broken CFL bulb

When a bulb does break, although it is unlikely to cause any health problems, it is always best to minimise exposure to mercury, as well as the risk of cuts from glass fragments.

If you break a CFL bulb at home, the best thing to do is:

  • ventilate and vacate the room for at least 15 minutes
  • using rubber gloves to protect your hands, carefully gather up the broken pieces and place in a plastic bag
  • gently sweep up all the fragments/particles with a damp cloth (not a brush or vacuum cleaner) and place in the plastic bag
  • wipe the area with a damp cloth afterwards and then add that cloth to the plastic bag and seal
  • you must not throw the bag in your normal household rubbish - take it to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre and place in the correct recycling container

Energy saving light bulbs and safety

All energy saving bulbs are safe to be used in the home. However, some people may be affected by the ultra violet (UV) light the bulbs give off if they use these lights:

  • at close range
  • for over an hour at a time

People with some types of light sensitive conditions can also be affected by CFLs.

How to choose the right strength and colour light bulb

Choosing the right kind of light bulb will depend on what strength and type of light you want.

Light bulb strength

The strength of traditional (incandescent) light bulbs used to be measured in wattage, but wattage is not as relevant as light bulbs become more energy efficient. Wattage is still included on packaging for easy comparison, but it is being phased out and replaced with the number of lumens. A lumen is a measure of light; a higher number means a brighter light.

The lumen equivalents of incandescent bulbs are:

  • 100W incandescent bulb = 1,300-1,400 lumens
  • 75W incandescent bulb =920-970 lumens
  • 60W incandescent bulb = 700-750 lumens
  • 40W incandescent bulb = 410-430 lumens
  • 25W incandescent bulb = 220-230 lumens

Light bulb colour

Different light colours can be used for different things. For example, you might prefer a ‘warm white’ light for relaxing and a more powerful ‘cold white’ light for work spaces. These light qualities are measured in Kelvins and can be found on light bulb packaging.

For softer, warmer lighting, look for a 2,700K light bulb. For work spaces, a colder, brighter 4,000k would be better.

How long will a CFL light bulb last

The lifetime of a light bulb means the number of hours most light bulbs of that type will work before dying. Light bulbs that are on all the time will die faster than those used less often.

The lifetime also depends on the number of times a light is switched on and off. Standard CFLs can last for up to 3,000-6,000 on/off switches. They should ideally not be used when lights are switched on and off a lot, as this will affect the lifetime of the bulb. There are CFLs that can last up to one million switches that should be used in these cases.

Other light bulbs are not affected by the number of times they are switched on and off.

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