The Insider: Why low-energy lamps are such a bright idea
Saturday 21 March 2009
With energy bills having rocketed in recent years, more households are using energy-saving light bulbs as a way to cut their electricity costs. As energy-saving bulbs have grown in popularity, so too has the range of bulbs on offer – making it that much harder to know which ones to go for when you're out in the shops.
"The sale of traditional incandescent light bulbs is being phased out as part of the Government's plans to reduce CO2 emissions, so we'll all have to switch to energy-saving versions in the next few years," says Martyn Hocking, the editor of the consumer magazine Which?. "The good news is that, as well as being better for the environment, energy-saving bulbs are better for your wallet. Although they may be more expensive to buy than traditional bulbs, they work out cheaper in the long run because they use less electricity and don't have to be replaced as often."
Although most people associate energy-saving bulbs with a poorer quality of light and slow start-up, standards in these areas have improved enormously over the past few years. Nevertheless, quality still varies from bulb to bulb, as do prices. While it's now possible to pick up energy-saving bulbs for as little as 50p, you can spend up to £9 on a single bulb. But, as ever, the best bulbs are not always the ones that cost the most.
When the consumer group Which? recently tested 16 different bulbs, it was Ikea's Sparsam stick (pictured), priced at £3.25 a bulb, which ranked top – scoring 75 out of 100. It was way ahead of the rest of the field, and was one of few bulbs to perform well in cold as well as in warmer temperatures. It lasts for an impressive 10,000 hours – but there is a slightly green hue to the light it emits.
Two of the 16 bulbs Which? tested cost a rather steep £9 – including the bottom-ranked Omicron Dimmable Multi-tube (pictured). Although this bulb starts up relatively quickly and, as the name suggests, is usable with a dimmer, it has a lifespan of just 8,000 hours and performed very poorly in colder temperatures. Overall, it scored only 59 per cent in the Which? tests.
Where to buy
Ikea's bulbs are available only from its stores or by ordering online at its website, ikea.co.uk. Similarly, B&Q's bulbs are available only in its shops or at diy.com. If you're willing to consider other brands, there are many online retailers – such as energybulbs.co.uk – stocking a wide range of energy-efficient products. You'll also find a limited selection at your local supermarket or hardware store.
The Insider is written in conjunction with the consumer group Which?. For advice on saving money on your energy bills, visit www.whichswitch.co.uk.
To get three issues of 'Which?' magazine for £3, call 01992 822 800 and quote INADVICE
Five questions to ask...
*How quickly does it start up? Some bulbs can take several minutes to reach their full light output, while others are up to speed in seconds.
*What's the bulb's lifetime? The best energy-efficient light bulbs can operate for 10,000 hours, while the worst manage only about 6,000 hours.
*Screw or bayonet? Make sure you know whether your lamp or light socket needs a bulb with a bayonet or a screw fitting.
*What shape is the bulb? If the bulb is going to be visible, you might prefer one that is shaped like a globe. Most energy-saving bulbs are stick-shaped.
*How much light does it emit? Some bulbs do not emit as much light as they claim to.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens