Lighting can account for a surprising amount of your electricity bill. The good news is that we can achieve significant energy savings (and reductions on our electricity bills) by replacing inefficient lights with efficient alternatives.
For example, LED light bulbs are better value for money than incandescent and halogen light bulbs. They use around 75 per cent less electricity to produce the same amount of light and last significantly longer before needing to be replaced.
A small change can make a big difference. By replacing incandescent and halogen light bulbs to an efficient alternative you can save on running and replacement costs.
Many light bulbs are covered by mandatory energy efficiency requirements, including incandescent, halogen and fluorescent bulbs.
- Incandescent, halogen and compact fluorescent bulbs must meet Minimum Energy Performance Standards.
- Light bulbs are not required to carry an Energy Rating Label.
Energy efficiency regulations are currently being considered for LED bulbs.
How to choose the right light bulb for you
Choose the type of bulb
More efficient bulbs will last longer and cost less to run.
You can choose from the following types of light bulbs for your home.
- Halogen bulbs. These are a type of incandescent light and are generally much cheaper to buy. However, they are a lot more expensive to run and need to be replaced more often.
- Fluorescent lights (including compact fluorescent lamps, known as CFLs).
- Light emitting diodes (LEDs). Using an LED light bulb instead of a halogen bulb could help you save money on energy bills.
LEDs are usually more expensive to buy than halogen bulbs, but last longer and cost less to run. For example, a good quality LED can last five to fifteen times longer than a halogen and use around 75% less electricity. When you consider replacement and running costs, they can work out to be a much better buy.
Choose a fitting
Make sure you have the right fitting.
There are many different light bulb bases on the market, including bayonets, screws, pins and caps. This can make it confusing to find the right replacement bulb, so it is recommended to take the old bulb with you to the shop to compare bases and ask for advice if required.
Choose the brightness
How bright do you want your lights to be?
The brightness of a bulb used to be in watts, but more efficient bulbs use less energy to produce the same amount of light. Now bulb brightness is measured in lumens. Lumens give a measure of the amount of light produced by a light bulb. For brightness look for the bigger lumens number.
Choose a colour temperature
Get the right colour for your needs.
The colour temperature of a light bulb is measured in Kelvin (K). The lower the Kelvin number, the warmer the light appears, with the light having a yellow or amber tone. The higher the Kelvin number, the cooler and bluer the light will be.
Cool white light can be better for concentrating or seeing detail, and so are a great choice for studies, kitchens, garages and workshops.
Daylight is similar to midday daylighting conditions and can appear harsh and sterile but may be good for bathrooms and laundries.
Warm white light is good for relaxing and suited to living rooms and bedrooms. You may wish to have warmer light in bedroom lamps to help prepare for sleep, as blue light can suppress melatonin that your body produces to help get a good night’s sleep.
Frequently asked questions
How do I choose a good quality LED?
Currently there are no minimum efficiency standards in place for LEDs. This means that the quality of appliances on the market can vary widely.
Standards for LED light bulbs are in progress, however until they are released it is recommended you research the LED bulb you are looking to buy by checking in with retailers, suppliers and website reviews to determine the quality of the bulb before you buy.
Are there health concerns with compact fluorescent lamps?
There are two common health concerns with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).
- UV light. While some CFLs emit slightly more UV light than incandescent bulbs, these emissions are not significant if the CFLs are installed more than 25 centimetres away from people, such as in ceiling fittings . If you are concerned about UV exposure you should minimise the time spent closer than 25 centimetres from CFLs or use ‘double envelope’ or ‘covered’ CFLs.
- Flickering. Modern fluorescent lights are free of visible flicker. If a CFL has a noticeable flicker it could be a poor quality product or occur where the lamp has been incorrectly fitted.
What is Australia doing about mercury in lights?
From 7 March 2022, Australia prohibited the import, export and manufacture of some compact fluorescent lamps, linear fluorescent lamps, high pressure mercury vapour lamps, and mercury in cold cathode fluorescent lamps and external electrode fluorescent lamps for electronic displays. There are some exemptions.
These changes are part of Australia’s commitments to reduce mercury pollution under the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
There are mercury-free replacements available for most prohibited products. For example, LED bulbs are a safe alternative to mercury-containing compact fluorescent lamps, with the added benefit of lower running costs.
For more details and information on these changes please see Minamata Convention on Mercury - Sector specific guidance on the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s website.