Energy Saving Light Bulbs: The Facts

Looking for a compelling case to make the switch to energy-efficient light bulbs? Here are eight energy-saving light bulb facts to help guide your decision.

Australia has started to phase out energy-efficient halogen lights, clearing the way for a halogen lights ban by September 2020. This article is designed to educate you about the different types of light bulbs, how they work, their pros and cons, and help choose the right one for your needs.

Energy-saving light bulbs: What you need to know

First thing’s first, let’s explore the range of energy-efficient light bulbs that are now available. Australian households can typically choose between two types of energy-saving light bulbs.

The standard, non-energy saving type of light bulb — which will be phased out by September 2020 — is called a halogen bulb. The two energy-efficient light bulb options include compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Your choice of energy-saving light bulb ultimately depends on your budget and priorities. Here are seven energy-saving light bulb facts to help guide your decision on whether to choose a CFL or an LED.

Fact #1: Investing in just 10 energy-efficient light bulbs can save you $65 per year.

Using LEDs can help you save up to 80 percent in energy costs per year. Switching 10 halogen light bulbs to energy-saving LEDs can cut your electricity bill by $650 over 10 years.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are the most energy-efficient light bulbs, using at least 75% less energy than halogen lighting. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are a little less efficient, using up to 70% less energy than halogen.

LEDs are typically more expensive to buy up-front and you’ll typically recoup the initial cost of the investment within one year.

CFLs are a great alternative if you’re strapped for cash. These typically cost less upfront than LEDs and produce less heat than a halogen bulb, ultimately saving you more on cooling costs. However, they will cost slightly more than LEDs over their lifetime.

If you have the budget, LEDs are hands-down the best choice if you’re looking for value in terms of efficiency and long-term cost savings.

Fact #2: Energy-efficient light bulbs last much longer than traditional halogen light bulbs.

Compact fluorescent lamps last 4 to 10 times longer than halogen light bulbs, lasting 10,000 hours on average. LED light bulbs last a staggering 60 times longer than their halogen counterparts — up to 50,000 hours. Longer-lasting means fewer light bulb replacements.

Before the CFLs arrive at full brightness, they are less efficient than halogen lights, but with time become more efficient.

Fact #3: The way different energy-saving light bulbs work varies — a lot.

CFLs and LEDs are drastically different in the way they work — and this impacts their level of safety.

With a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), UV light is created using an electric current, argon and a small amount of mercury vapour, a toxic chemical. The UV light interacts with a fluorescent coating called phosphor inside the tube to produce visible light.

In contrast, LEDs do not contain any mercury at all. Their design involves passing an electric current through a tiny, silicon diode, causing spare electrons to move to fill the empty spaces. When the electrons settle into these spaces, they emit photons – the particles that make up light.

LEDs only need a small electrical current to produce a lot of light, requiring much less wattage than CFLs. As a result, less energy is wasted, making them more efficient than CFLs.

Fact #4: The best disposal method depends on the type of light bulb you buy.

Both LED lights and CFLs are recyclable. Almost every part of a fluorescent or LED bulb can be recycled.

Since they contain no hazardous materials, LEDs are easy to discard.

However, CFLs contain a tiny amount of toxic mercury and must be disposed of carefully at the end of their lifespan.

The typical CFL contains about four milligrams of mercury, an environmental and health hazard. However, certain brands use significantly less. For example, Earthmade Mini-Size Bulbs and Litetronics Neolite use about 1 milligram each.

Recycling compact fluorescent light bulbs can recover valuable materials like ceramic, glass, aluminium, and phosphor, for reuse in products like fertiliser and aluminium cans. Recycling a CFL is easy. Simply drop it off at a council resource recovery centre or research the date of the next household hazardous waste free drop-off day. Businesses can opt to have their CFLs collected and recycled by a private waste company.

Fact #5: Energy-saving light bulbs help cut carbon emissions.

Energy-saving bulbs are a simple way for your home or business to do its part to help cut global carbon emissions. In its lifetime, a single LED light can prevent half a ton of greenhouse gas emissions.

Fact #6: LED lights produce direct, efficient light.

An LED streamlines this light in a single direction to create more direct, efficient illumination. This is unique compared to other light bulbs, which produce heat and light in every direction, losing as much as 50 percent of the light.

Fact #7: To choose a new light fitting, look at the lumen rating, not the wattage.

If you want your energy-saving bulb to have the same brightness as your halogen light, you’ll need to make sure it’s the same brightness. Word of warning: This isn’t as simple as buying the same wattage.

Since energy-saving bulbs use less energy than halogen light bulbs, they can produce the same brightness at a much lower wattage. To find the best light bulb for your brightness needs, you need to match the lumen rating. The higher the lumen rating, the ‘brighter’ the light bulb will appear.

Something else to keep in mind: A single CFL and LED bulb might have the same lumen (brightness) output, but vary significantly in the amount of energy needed to generate that level of brightness.

Switching to energy-saving light bulbs is one of the fastest, easiest ways to save energy and reduce your energy bills. Peak Voltage’s team of experts will be happy to provide advice on energy-efficient lighting. Give us a call on (07) 3272 7325 or contact us through our website.