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Home » Energy saving

How do energy saving light bulbs work?

Submitted by on Friday, 27 July 2012 Loading Add to favourites  2 Comments

More and more people are trying to be conscious of the environment but in these tough economic times they are also looking to cut down on their energy bills.

Energy-saving light bulbs allow you to achieve both aims.

If you manage to save money in this or any other way it’s important to put it into a good savings account. You can compare savings accounts at to find one that meets your needs.

A New Type of Light Bulb

Traditional bulbs, which produce light from a filament, are being phased out and from September 2011 it became illegal to produce or import 60 watt and above incandescent bulbs across the EU.

The new type of bulb is more efficient and environmentally-friendly counterpart. It is effectively a mini fluorescent lamp and works in the same way as long tube bulbs commonly seen in offices and schools.

The glass tube is filled with mercury gas, which produces an invisible ultra-violet light as electricity passes through when the light switch is turned on. This then lights a phosphoric coating on the bulb’s glass case and emits the visible light we can see.

Energy-saving bulbs come with traditional fittings – bayonet or screw – and use far less energy than traditional bulbs.

Efficiency and Longevity

The most standard traditional light bulbs are 60 or 100 watt, which refers to the energy they consume in an hour. Compare them to the standard energy-saving bulbs, which will use nine or 11 watts and you see a substantial difference.

And by replacing filament bulbs in spotlighting systems, for example, this power saving is magnified as these systems consume a particularly high level of electricity due to the number of bulbs used.

A filament bulb is very inefficient and only converts around 10% of the electricity it uses into light. The remainder is lost through heat, which explains why they get so hot.

An energy-saving alternative is far more efficient and it’s this feature that will save you a significant amount of money over time. By switching one filament bulb for a low-energy alternative, you’ll save an estimated £3 per year. By replacing all traditional bulbs, a household can expect to spend around £50 less on their electricity bill in a year.

While you can expect to pay more to buy an energy-saving light bulb, this cost is outweighed by its lifespan, which is another significant advantage it holds over its incandescent counterpart. You can expect your energy-saving bulb to last between five and eight years, on average.

Environmentally Friendly

So the financial advantages are obvious, but how do energy-saving bulbs benefit the environment? Light bulbs produce carbon dioxide when they use electricity, so it follows that energy-saving light bulbs produce less and are therefore better for the environment.

What about you – have you switched to CFL light bulbs?


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  • Yes, we’ve made the switch. I believe it’s well worth it and I love doing my part for the environment that benefits us all.

  • Andy says:

    Don’t forget that other forms of direct replacement low energy lighting are now more readily available. Like LED bulbs and 240v quartz halogen. Quartz look more like conventional GLS bulbs but are around 30% more efficient. LED are still rather expensive (as of 2012) but are even more efficient than the compact fluorescent light (CFL) and last twice as long as even CFLs.