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LED lighting: should I make the change?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 15 February 2016 at 2:30 pm

Firstly ask yourself what bulbs you use at home. It really is worth looking at your current lighting needs and then seeing whether you can replace your existing bulbs with LED alternatives (and when I say ‘whether you can’ I mean ‘I know you can’ – my friend has even replaced his fridge bulb with an LED one now).

The most important lesson for me has been light 'temperature'. This is measured in Kelvin (you'll find it on the packet of any light bulb).  Many people like a warm white, much like the old-fashioned tungsten bulbs.  This is about 2700 Kelvin (K).  It's interesting that people from colder climates tend to favour a warmer light, while people from hotter climates tend to prefer something more white or blue.  Also we tend to prefer warmer colours in living rooms and bedrooms and the whiter ones in bathrooms and kitchens.  Now I understand the colour I like, I generally get the right bulb each time.

One of the reasons I switched to LED is that I have photovoltaic panels on my roof, which contribute to the electricity demand of my house during the day.  However, after I bought a real-time energy meter I quickly learned that I was using a lot of electricity at night - when my panels don't help (I have an owl energy meter, but you could choose any of the options on the market). With a bit of investigation (and some switching off of fridges, radio alarm clocks etc) I realised my lighting was drawing quite a lot of electricity and that’s even with the many compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs I already had.  Even if you don't have PV, lighting uses a lot of power. The good news is that it really is one of the easiest things to change.

So if you are replacing old halogens with LEDs you can make huge savings.  It is actually worth taking out all your existing bulbs and swapping them, even if they are still working (and the energy saving here would by far outweigh the embedded carbon costs).  If you already have CFLs then the economics work out a bit different and the energy saving won’t be anything like as much.  In my kitchen I originally swapped 24 old bulbs for CFLs (more than five years ago), now as they come to the end of their lives I am slowly replacing them with LEDs.  The main thing I notice is how quickly they come on and what a great light they give. It also gives me the opportunity to test out different bulbs, so I have a variety of colours now.

I know that many people tried LED lighting when it first came out and weren’t happy and were ‘put off forever’.  Some people even mix these up, remembering those old CFLs (like in my kitchen) which took ages to get up to full strength, but things really are different now.  If you don’t believe me then just try one bulb and give it a go.  You really will be amazed.  In fact, because they come on so quickly and give such great light, you may decide to replace all the CFLs anyway.  My old bulbs were all 60w, my CFLs were 11w and the new LEDs are just 4w, so for 24 bulbs that does result in quite a saving.

There are still some challenges on packaging that don't make it easy to choose right bulb for its purpose, but there's a growing lobby for no-nonsense labelling, so hopefully things will change.  And it is always worth asking someone in the shop for help or advice on which is the right bulb.  I used to take the old bulb with me to make sure that I got a like for like replacement.

Remember you can take old bulbs to the local dump where they can go to be recycled, so don’t just chuck them in the bin.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Don’t be put off – you should be able to find a bulb suitable for whatever you need, including dimmable ones (and ones for fridges!)
  • Do make sure that you get the colour you want – over 2700 kelvin will be a whiter light, under 2700 will get warmer
  • Don’t think that the heat from old bulbs warms the house and is therefore useful in some way. You don’t need that heat in the summer and anyway this would be a really expensive way to heat your home (remember heat rises, so really you would be mainly heating the ceiling)
  • Do get the right wattage.  You want something equivalent to 100w in main room lights, something equivalent to 60w in lamps and maybe as low as 25w equivalent in areas where you want softer lighting
  • Don’t buy cheap bulbs thinking it is a great saving.  Paying for a good quality LED bulb will ensure that it lasts for years


Photo: SuperHomes

Also see on SuperHomes:

Do LED lights for home use impress Pt1?

Do LED lights for home use impress Pt2?

Also see on YouGen:

5 things to bear in mind when buying LED lightbulbs

How LED lighting can cut commercial electricity bills

More information about low energy lighting on YouGen

Find a low energy lighting installer.

Need help with any Jargon?

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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7 comments - read them below or add one


maryfinkComment left on: 11 February 2019 at 9:51 am

hi! thank you for this info. finally i found quality article. i hope if my mother read it, she will change her lightning 

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jamesjason00Comment left on: 11 May 2017 at 11:30 am

i recently changed my office bulb into led it has more bright and sharp all the room corner more bright.

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cjbannisterComment left on: 22 April 2016 at 2:27 pm

Great article, I've recently changed the bulbs in my house to LED (well, i'm getting there) and have seen big improvements. 

You just have to remember that the extra up front cost is worth it afterall. I'd add that you also save money on maintenance which should be a factor. 

Happy Energy Saving!

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Ross Lammas

Ross Lammas from Comment left on: 2 March 2016 at 10:06 am

LED lighting colour temperature range has improved recent years. However, there still appears to be a lot confusion regarding converting Lumens to Watts – especially with LED, CFL's and Halgens.  

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Andy in Hawick

Andy in HawickComment left on: 1 March 2016 at 8:31 pm

On colour temperature, your body responds to different light temperatures as part of the daily 'circadian' rhythm. 'White'/blue light is good for office space and for 'waking you up' at the start of the day (or during it!); 'warm' light is good for dialing down in the evening and important to have in the siting room and bedrooms. It is not so much about 'personal preferences' as having the appropriate type of light for the time of day. Blue light in the evening will affect your sleep patterns.

One of the fun things about LED lights is that there are more options than 'pin-for-pin replacements'. We have a flat panel light in the wetroom that gives a bright, shadowless light and we used a reel of self-adhesive LEDs in the kitchen where we could stick them on the inside of the pelmets below the wall cupboards and even on the inside of the cupboards themselves. No longer are we tied to large glass encloures that are hot and need spaced away from everything!

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GaryComment left on: 17 February 2016 at 4:37 pm

I first switched to LEDs on some of my most leccy-hungry lights 3 or 4 years ago at about £12 per bulb.  I have to say i was a little disappointed as the light (for me) was a little "floury" and had a greenish tinge.  I lived with them but recently i came across some fantastic bulbs from a firm called TP24.  I needed some long body GU10s to replace fome 13W CFLs in the bathroom.  The only ones i could find were from the aforementioned firm, so i took the plunge.  I have to say they are amazing.  Good price at about £5 from memory, look good, 3W, good warm white tone and really bright.

These were so good that i decided to replace all of the old greenish LEDs and my remaining halogen 50W spots with MR11 3.5W from said firm.  I also decided to swap the old transformers with LED drivers for about £4 each as the transformers lose about 5W across them and a DC power supply is probably better for the bulbs, though they work without flicker on an AC feed.

I also found some good GU4 capsules at 1W and 3W and about 50p each for the remainder of the old halogens - but these do need the transformer switching out as the 1W are DC-only.

Before I started down this route i had about 30kW of light bulbs in the house.  Now I am at less than 2kW.  I have spent a few hundred £ in the process but calculate a payback period of 3 or 4 years, even including the longer period for those seldom-used lights.

If you can afford the up-front cost I would recommend making the switch - after all, a new lamp with LEDs could cost a lot more than a few new bulbs in an old lamp, assuming you still like the lamp itself of course.

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Helen1983Comment left on: 17 February 2016 at 8:50 am

I replaced all the bulbs in my shop with LED lightning. It was worth the effort, now I have much lower energy bills.

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