Top tips to help you choose the right lightbulb

energy efficient LED lighting

The traditional lightbulb has been dead for going on seven years now, but lots of us still haven’t settled on a type of light bulb which replaces qualities such as instant brightness, a warmth and natural feeling we used to get from these bulbs. Today there several different kinds of light bulb available on the market, some are energy saving and others just long lasting.

So, what are the alternatives to incandescent light bulbs. Here I’ll take a look at the most popular types of light bulb on the market and take you through the pros and cons of each type.


Halogen are one of the most popular types of light bulbs available on the market today. Though they are not as energy saving as some of the other bulbs available on the market, Halogen light bulbs are still allowed to be sold under current regulations.

So what are the pros and cons of Halogen light bulbs?

Halogen light bulbs – Pros:

  • Comparing Halogen light bulbs to traditional incandescent. They are also energy saving light bulbs compared to traditional bulbs.
  • A Halogen bulb will last much longer and use around 50% less energy than incandescent bulbs, good but not as good as some competitors.
  • The light emitted by Halogen light bulbs is more focused, whiter and brighter than a traditional bulb. This means they are better suited to reading at night and make great bulbs for desk or bedside lamps.
  • They don’t as many harmful and dangerous chemicals such as mercury, which seeps from old incandescent bulbs into landfill sites.
  • In general the are sturdier and more durable.
  • You can use them with a dimmer switch.
  • They won’t develop those dark spots you used to see on incandescent bulbs towards the end of their life.

Halogen light bulbs – Cons:

  • The don’t come in cheap and are some of the most expensive bulbs you can buy, costing around 4 times the price of old traditional bulbs. But remember they will last a long time and so the high price will come out in the wash.
  • The get hot. Really, really hot. This doesn’t just mean they are a danger to touch even when they have been off for a while, but there is a small chance of them causing a fire if improperly used.
  • That bright, focused light is a different kind of light to what we are used to. This might mean the lighting scheme of your home no longer works if you switch to Halogen bulbs. Their light can also take some getting used to in terms of style and output and they are not for everybody.
  • Halogen energy saving light bulbs give off a very strong glare and, in general, have to be adequately shaded.
  • Oils and salts in your skin can also transfer to the bulb and reduce their efficiency. Always handle when given adequate time to cool to the touch after turning off and handle with a towel or other fabric to prevent the transfer of oils and salts to the bulb.

CFL, or Compact Fluorescent Lamps

The most common type of energy saving light bulbs you will see on the market today is the CFL or compact fluorescent lamp bulb. The come in a huge variety of sizes, shapes, fittings and styles, so you are bound to find the right one for your home. They are held to be the best overall solution to replacing incandescent bulbs. So let’s look at the good and bad points about CFL bulbs.

CFL light bulbs – Pros:

  • They use a whopping 75% less energy when compared to a traditional incandescent light bulb, that far less energy than a Halogen bulb.
  • As they use less energy to run they last a long time. In fact they last up to TEN TIMES the length of a traditional light bulb!
  • As they use less energy and use much less power overall, they kick out much less heat than a traditional light bulb. This makes them much safer to the touch and a far reduced fire risk.
  • They are also easy to install in hard to access fittings.

CFL light bulbs – Cons:

  • One of the biggest problems and a complaint which is a bug-bare of many users is that CFL light bulbs don’t instantly produce light. They gradually build up in intensity once turned on. A complaint often leveled at them is that once turned on it seems like they are not doing anything to illuminate the room. If you’re not going to be in a room too long they may not get bright enough, quick enough.
  • Whilst quite uncommon, some people have reported that light emitted from CFL’s can give people a headache. This might be just because you need to adjust to the new type of light. There are also several types of CFL available to combat this.
  • CFL light bulbs are, like many energy saving light bulbs, costly to buy.
  • CFL light bulbs, like incandescent bulbs before them, contain mercury.
  • They are designed to be switched on for long periods of time. Constantly turning them on and off does have an effect of durability of the bulb and impacts their lifespan and efficiency.
  • They can’t be used with standard dimmer switches.

LED (Light Emitting Diode)

If you are asking friends and family about which type of energy saving light bulb they use it won’t be long before you come across the LED bulb. The LED is the darling of the lighting industry. They are efficient, super long lasting and are great for the environment. But what are their up and down sides?

LED light bulbs – Pros:

  • LED energy saving light bulbs are stupidly long lasting, around 50,000 hours. That’s a heck of alot of light!
  • They are compact, small and easy to focus where you need them.
  • LED energy saving light bulbs come is a huge variety of shapes, sizes and beautiful colours. You can create pretty lighting displays with LED bulbs.
  • They give off almost no heat or UV light.
  • There are zero toxic components in LED’s such as mercury.
  • They are costly to buy, but you will more than get your monies worth several times over during the light bulb’s lifetime. If you are looking for long-term savings, the LED is certainly the way to go.
  • LED light is, in general, seen as cleaner and to many people feels much warmer and less artificial.
  • They fit in most types of light fitting and about the most versatile on this list.

LED light bulbs – Cons:

  • The price you pay in the shop for an LED bulb is much higher. There could also be installation costs with some bulbs and fittings.
  • Whilst they can create very pretty colours, they struggle to produce clear white light. Manufacturers try to get around this by combining several colours.
  • The light produced is much more focused and direct. Think of a standard bulb giving out a wide net of light, LED’s are a focused beam. To illuminate a room you will in general need to use a series of bulbs strategically placed around a room.
  • Factors which can lead to LED light bulbs failing include poor installation (why you might need help putting them in) too much heat and poor handling. As you may not be able to install yourself, it can make replacing them difficult.

What is your go-to type of energy saving light bulb? You can find out more about all these different kinds of bulbs in this handy guide.

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