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.
Compare with the Independent: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 3 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 4 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
- 5 Dead woman's body found sitting in a car after six years after direct debits ran $54,000 bank account dry
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
White people become less racist just by moving to more diverse areas, study finds
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
iJobs Money & Business
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£32000 - £36000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: * TAX * ...
£37000 - £40000 per annum + £20000 benefits package: Pro-Recruitment Group: **...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Mixed Ta...
Day In a Page
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
A charming four-bedroom house overlooking Burleigh Square Park, close to Thorpe Bay
A three-bedroom farmhouse with a large inglenook fireplace and exposed beams
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station
A Grade II-listed home with six bedrooms, secluded landscaped gardens and views across Hadley Green
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town
A charming five-bedroom detached family home, set within half an acre in Kew