Energy-saving light bulbs frequently asked questions

20 November 2014

Find out all you need to know about energy-saving light bulbs with our guide to common questions and myths.

Will energy-saving light bulbs save me money?

The running costs of energy-saving lighting are lower than for traditional bulbs of the same brightness, but the bulbs themselves are more expensive.

Over time, you should recoup this extra expense in the form of lower electricity bills. But how quickly this happens depends on how often you use the light and how bright it is.

If you replace a single incandescent bulb with several energy-saving spotlights, on the other hand, your electricity bills could end up rising.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, replacing the traditional light bulbs in a typical home would cost £110 but save £45 on electricity a year.

A guide to energy-saving light bulbs...

How long on average will an energy-saving light bulb last?

Energy-saving bulbs have much longer lifetimes than traditional incandescent bulbs.

LED lights are the most expensive of the new breed of lighting, but they can be expected to last for two decades or more, depending on how intensely they are used.

Halogen bulbs have a shorter lifespan of around two years – and bear in mind the energy savings offered by halogens are not huge.

CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) can last for up to 10 years.

Manufacturers print details of expected lifespans on the bulb packaging, usually in years or hours.

The EU minimum lifespan for LED lights is 6,000 hours – used for two hours a day, this would cover more than eight years, although some producers claim their bulbs will last for as long as 25,000 hours.

Can you use energy saving light bulbs with dimmer switch light fittings?

As energy-saving light bulbs have become more popular, the technology has improved and manufacturers now offer a wider range of products.

It is now possible to buy light bulbs which work with dimmer switches: most CFL and halogen bulbs can be used in this way, but check on the packaging of LED bulbs that they are labelled “dimmable”.

Choosing the right energy-saving light bulbs...

Do you need different energy-saving light bulbs for indoor and outdoor use?

To replace traditional light bulbs inside your home, you can use any type of energy-saving bulb – CFL, halogen or LED.

All you need to consider is the fitting, brightness, price and energy-efficiency of each option.

And to replace light bulbs outside your home, for example in security or patio lights, you should bear in mind that CFLs have been found to work poorly in colder conditions.

This could also be an issue when choosing lighting for your garage or other unheated outbuildings.

Some light bulbs are specially designed to be used outdoors and contain light sensors so they switch on automatically when it gets dark.

Where are the best places buy energy-saving light bulbs?

With traditional incandescent bulbs no longer available in the shops, the range of energy-saving bulbs available has grown rapidly.

So how do you choose a bulb, and make sure you are getting something which is reliable?

Generally, LED bulbs will last longer than any other type. EU regulations say they have to last for a minimum of 6,000 hours, although manufacturers often claim significantly longer lifetimes, sometimes of three or four times as long.

LEDs are more expensive but should prove more economical in the long-run.

Visit online retailers such as to see what brands other buyers recommend.

Choose light bulbs with a large number of reviews that are overwhelmingly positive.

Energy-saving light bulbs safety tips...

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.