It’s surprising that the lighting in our homes accounts for between 10 to 20% of our electricity bills, and is a contributor to CO2 emissions. There have been great strides in encouraging the replacement of old fashioned incandescent (filament) lightbulbs with energy efficient alternatives, but there is still some way to go.

Flick the switch on incandescent lightbulbs

Incandescent lightbulbs use electricity very inefficiently, converting very little of the electricity they use into light. As you will know if you’ve sat near a light bulb, most of it’s energy is wasted as heat. This heat can shorten the life of light fittings and shades and also present a risk of fire, should a bulb in use come into contact with a variety of surfaces.  They also have a short-life span, so are wasteful throw away devices.

Tips on saving electricity on lighting?

Below are a few tips worth thinking about even if you are in rented accommodation:

  • Install low energy bulbs of the correct light output. See sust-it’s lighting calculator. And remember the one to five ratio when replacing an old-fashioned bulb. i.e. If replacing a 100-watt bulb, a bulb of 20 watts is required.
  • Turn off lights when not in use, unless they are safety lights.
  • The cheapest form of light is daylight so maximise it where you can.
  • Trendy they might be, but avoid installing halogen lighting, particularly the low voltage types which fit into ceilings and walls. LED spot lights are available.
  • Low energy (compact fluorescent) bulbs exist for virtually every situation and preference, so search for alternatives
  • Fluorescent tubes are energy efficient, and cast the safest light in kitchens.
  • Use side lights with low energy bulbs installed in them if you are stuck with fixed halogen lights that are difficult to replace.
  • Dispose of low energy lightbulbs at recycling centres. See below.

Safe disposal of low energy lightbulbs

Although they last longer than traditional lightbulbs, low energy light bulbs at some stage will require replacing.  It is important that the bulbs are disposed of correctly and not simply put in the general household waste. Low-energy light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury giving them their energy-saving properties, whilst this may not be harmful on its own, if large quantities of these bulbs end up going to landfill they could be damaging to the environment. Recolight, the lamp industry lead on recycling lights has a useful map showing free collection points.