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How to save money on energy bills by switching to LED

Why switch to LED bulbs?

A triple pendant light using super energy efficient LED bulbs.

A triple pendant light using super energy efficient LED bulbs.

Inefficient bulbs might be lurking in your home, costing you money each day. Here's our guide on how to spot them, and how to save money.

There is no doubt that we are in an energy price crisis. Much has been made about home appliances and the cost of running them, such as dishwashers and tumble dryers, yet little is said about the light bulbs that are used in our homes.

A single 50w halogen bulb, in a recessed kitchen downlight for example, could be costing you as much as £24.80 per year to run* and if you have ten of them, that's £248.20 per year!* By swapping the old style halogens for energy efficient 6w LED equivalent bulbs, the cost nose dives to just £29.78 for all 10 bulbs, a saving of £218.42 per year.

We use decorative bulbs in our chandeliers and lamps, but we know that they aren't for everyone. As soon as we sat down and worked out the potential costs of our own home we decided to help others save money and be more energy efficient by writing this guide.

*Based on the energy price cap in the UK at October 2022

How can I work out what type of bulb I have, and how much it's costing me?

Firstly take the bulb out of its holder, if you can, and take a look at the wattage on the side near the base. Use our handy table, below, to find out how much it will cost you per year to run (based on an average use of 4 hrs per day and at the October 2022 price cap rate of £0.34p per kWh - energy prices vary by region, check with your supplier). If you can't easily remove the bulb to see the wattage printed near the base, there are another couple of ways to seek them out. Inefficient bulbs let themselves down by being hot (more energy is lost to heat than light), and some older style 'energy saving' bulbs take a while to 'warm up' to full brightness.

CFL 'Energy Saving' bulbs

CFL bulbs (compact fluorescent lamp) can be sneakily costing you money. You may have invested in these 'energy efficient' bulbs some time ago, but they are the types of bulbs that will be pushing your bills upwards today - they are more efficient than incadescent bulbs, but less so than LED's. They are also a nightmare to dispose of safely because they contain mercury, and so are bad for the environment. They can be identified by their twisty, tubular shape. If you have any of these, it's likely they have given you many years of energy saving compared to if you'd stuck with incandescent bulbs, but it's best to replace them with LED's.

How to identify a CFL bulb, and where to look on a halogen bulb for the wattage.

How to identify a CFL bulb, and where to look on a halogen bulb for the wattage.

Incandescent and halogen bulbs

Incandescent and halgen lights are thermal radiators. In short, light is produced by heating tungsten wire until it produces light. Manufacture of incandescent and halogen bulbs is now banned as these inefficient heat radiators convert only 5% of the absorbed energy into light. They are generally high wattage, 40w upwards, so they are relatively easy to indentify as the wattage is printed near to the base, and so quite costly.

LED - better for your pocket, and the environment.​​​

If every single home in Britain swapped to 100% LED bulbs, we could save approximately 1.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

Using less energy is a no brainer for the environment, something that we are passiontate about at MooBoo Home. If one good thing comes out of the energy price crisis, it's that we, as a society, use less energy and switch to better, cleaner, cheaper and sustainable energy, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and natural gases, and therfore have a positive impact on our environment. If we use less energy, demand goes down and the price should drop whilst we wait for our world governments to build up the means of generating more sustainable, greener power.​​

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Our calculations

The energy saving trust prefers to work out average use at 562 hours per year, which is around 2 hrs per day. We have approached our calculations slightly differently as we think this is too little. We have thought about the average family home, 2.4 children, bedrooms and living spaces in use simultaneously. Also looking at people who work from home, and stay at home parents with younger children, retirees. We use our lights more in the winter than in the summer, not just at night but also during the day when there's no direct sunlight, north facing rooms may be darker, internal hallways need constant illumination. More people staying at home rather than going out for dinner or to the cinema, even entertaining others in their homes, therefore we think that home energy use for lighting is much higher than two hours per day. It's pretty much impossible to work out an average that works for everyone, so we've based this on our own home and family life. Of course this makes the numbers higher, but in the table you can see the costs relating to a single bulb, per hr, and the savings are still just as impressive - look after the pennies and the pounds will soon follow. Use our table to work out your home and see how much you can save by making the switch to energy efficent LED bulbs​​.

Based on October 2022 UK energy price cap

Based on October 2022 UK energy price cap

Dont over light a space

Even we have stood staring at shelves and shelves of LED bulbs in B&Q in the past, or spent hours scrolling through Amazon not really knowing what to buy. This was before we started using LED decorative bulbs in our bespoke fixtures, and through using them, and researching functional bulbs, we now have quite a bit of expertise.

A common mistake is buying the brightest bulb available, but this could be unnecessarily costing you money. Think about the function of the light source, are you working or cooking by it? Is it for reading or is it for atmosphere?

Warm white bulbs are great for living areas and creating ambiance, cool white works well in kitchen down lighters, and daylight bulbs are best for utility and workshop areas.

Don't be tempted to over light a room. Dimmers work by reducing the amount of power delivered to your light bulb, and save you money, and can give you flexibility over the ambience of the space - and we definitely recommend them in our bespoke chandeliers. But, if you find your side lamp is too bright and you don't need to have control over it, simply swap out the bulb for something that strikes the balance between practicality and ambience.

If you do use a dimmer, make sure it is compatible with LED bulbs, and that the bulbs state they are dimmable on the box.

Decorative LED bulbs

Calex Titanium decorative LED bulbs used here in our oak beam chandelier strike the balance between practicality and ambience.

Calex Titanium decorative LED bulbs used here in our oak beam chandelier strike the balance between practicality and ambience.

Wattage v's Lumens

It is common for people to mourn the loss of the 'old fashioned' light bulb, because it was easily understood - you knew what you were getting, 60w, 100w - light output could be understood by wattage. But light these days is a little more complicated, light output is not measured by wattage but rather by lumens, the wattage is simply the amount of power used to give light. A 4W LED bulb can have a similar light output to an old 40W incandescent bulb. Colour temperature is measured in kelvins, warm white is around 2700k, cool white around 4000k and daylight around 5000k. The higher the kelvin number, the cooler the light, the higher the lumen number the brighter the light output.

LED bulbs last a very long time

Longevity is important as swapping out your bulbs for LED's in one go can be costly. However they do last a very very long time, and you make your money back on your energy bill in the first year!

We use Calex bulbs in our fixtures and the decorative range last 15,000 - the equivalent of 10 years if you used them for 4 hours a day, everyday (which of course, you won't). The Calex functional range of bulbs have a 25,000 hour life - that's 17 years!

If you spend £8.99 on a new high quality 4W LED bulb to replace a 40W incandescent bulb, it feels like a lot - especially if you are buying several at once. However, the payoff is in your energy bill. Swapping just one 40W bulb for a 4W LED will save you £17.87 in the first year (£1.98 to run for a year vis £19.85). It's a win win, and you are helping the planet too!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2023 Nic Bouchard

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