In the residential sector around 15% of every home’s electricity bill is spent on lighting, while for commercial companies it is usually a bit higher. This may not be as much as heating costs but with fuel prices continuing to increase it still adds up to a significant amount.
It’s no surprise that especially now many people are resorting to alternative, cheaper ways to light their home. There are a few different options available but it can take a lot of trial and error before finding the most effective solution. There are advantages and disadvantages to all options, whether you’re after indoor or outdoor lighting.
If you’ve just moved into a new home or have lived in the same property for ages without changing any of the light fittings it’s likely every room will be using standard incandescent light bulbs. These use a wire filament which heats up to a high temperature as electricity passes through it and emits light.
They are flexible, coming in many shapes and sizes with small to high voltages available, but by far the most wasteful lighting option; about 90% of their energy is used towards heat. Even if replacing them all with energy efficient alternatives costs a bit more and gets rid of working bulbs it is worth it for the savings made and energy used effectively.
Before electricity only sunlight and fire provided any kind of illumination. In order to create a cleaner, more sustainable way of life some people are reverting back to older methods used when the world’s carbon emissions were nowhere near as high.
There is a romantic appeal to using candles for lighting purposes and on a minute-by-minute basis they are almost as efficient as certain eco-friendly bulbs. However, they do pose more of a fire hazard and the number of candles required to last as long as other bulbs is huge.
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (sometimes referred to as energy-saving halogen bulbs) use less electricity than incandescent ones to produce more light. Over one CFL’s lifetime it will use half a ton less CO2 compared to traditional bulbs.
They are certainly a more cost-effective option but do have a few downsides, such as many containing mercury. They also take a while to warm up and achieve full brightness, dimming over time as they become weaker. Exterior temperature affects them so many are ineffective outdoors or when it gets too cold inside.
LED bulbs on the other hand achieve full brightness instantly and contain no environmentally damaging materials such as mercury. They use less energy than CFLs and last for a lot longer than them and incandescent versions; some provide up to 50,000 hours of illumination.
Despite their more expensive initial cost this is soon evened out over time as they have to be replaced rarely. In time their price will decrease too as they become more common. Requiring less electricity to deliver a higher light emission with a miniscule amount wasted through heat makes LED bulbs the most efficient method for lighting your home (as long as they fit in your existing fittings).