Energy Saving Light bulbs FAQ

Energy Saving Light bulbs FAQ


What’s happened to traditional light bulbs?

Old-fashioned incandescent bulbs have been phased out across most parts of Europe. Most mainstream shops have already phased out all incandescent bulbs and this means the last of the old-fashioned bulbs in corner shops and specialists will soon be gone too.


What are the different types of light bulbs that I can buy?

There are three types of energy-saving light bulb currently on the market and these are:

  • Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)
  • Halogens
  • Light-emitting diodes (LEDs)


Will using energy-saving light bulbs save me money?

Replacing just one 60W incandescent with a CFL bulb (the most common style of energy-saving light bulb) can reduce your electricity bill by around £7 a year, so replacing ten light bulbs with energy-savers could save you £70 a year. LED bulbs are even more efficient than CFLs and save almost £7.50 per bulb per year. LEDs usually cost more to buy initially but have incredibly long life expectancies so you may not need to replace them for up to 30 years! Halogen bulbs are the least efficient so you’re unlikely to notice any reduction in your energy bill.


Which bulbs are most similar to an old-fashioned 60W incandescent?

A 60W incandescent typically emits 700-900 lumens so you’ll need to look for one with a similar brightness. In addition to the brightness, incandescent light has a ‘warm’ yellowish glow, so if you want to match this you’ll need to consider the colour temperature. This is given in kelvin (K) and should be listed on the packaging. Incandescent light has a colour temperature of around 2700K so a similar value should give a similar coloured light, which is sometimes labelled as ‘warm white’ on the box.


Why are some energy-saving light bulbs more expensive than they used to be?

Until 2010, energy companies subsidised and even gave away CFL-type light bulbs to UK homes. But following concerns that consumers were not using the bulbs given to them, these direct promotions were banned and that has meant that the price of CFL bulbs has increased in the past few years.


Are all energy-saving bulbs slow to get bright when you first switch them on?

LEDs and halogens come on instantly but some CFLs still take a few minutes to reach full brightness. At Which? we check the light output of the bulbs we rate when they are first turned on, and also at intervals to ensure the measured light output meets what’s promised on the packaging. The results of our independent testing show which bulbs give out a good level of light at start-up and those that don’t.


Can I use energy-saving bulbs with dimmers?

A bulb’s suitability for use with dimmers should be written on the packaging, so check the box to find out whether the bulb is dimmable before you buy. However some dimmer switches may not be compatible with newer types of bulbs. In general:

  • CFLs and halogen bulbs – most modern dimmer switches should work with these bulbs although some older ones may not be compatible.
  • LEDs – you may need to upgrade your dimmer switch to cope with low electrical loads. If in doubt ask us to check for you!


Can I find bulbs for chandelier-style light fittings?

Manufacturers now produce energy-saving light bulbs in many more shapes and sizes than they used to – for example candle and smaller globe-shaped bulbs.


If a light bulb fails can I get a refund?

Warranties on LED bulbs typically last between two and four years, so if the bulb fails within this time you should be able to get your money back. Check the box for details, and contact the place of purchase or the manufacturer’s customer service department.


Since I started using LED lights, my digital radio is playing up. Can LED bulbs affect digital radios?

Yes, we have found that some (but not all) LED bulbs can affect digital radios. Our snapshot tests found that some LEDs caused a fuzzy reception, and even a complete loss of signal when placed within a few centimetres of the radio.


How can I dispose of used energy-saving light bulbs?

LEDs and halogens can be disposed of in your normal household waste, but as CFLs contain tiny amounts of mercury these need to be recycled rather than being thrown in the bin. You can find your nearest local recycling site by entering your postcode on the Recolight website. As well as your local council tip, Homebase, Ikea, Robert Dyas and some branches of Sainsbury’s often have recycling points.


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