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Energy-saving light bulbs

Energy-saving light bulbs are not only good for the environment, they're cheaper to run and they last longer too.  This guide tells you about the different types of energy-saving light bulbs that are available and what they are good for.

Energy saving light bulbs being testedContents

  1. Introduction (this page)
  2. Light bulb choices
  3. Qualities of light
  4. Lighting your home
  5. Things to consider
  6. Prices and savings
  7. Best bulbs on test
  8. Light bulb FAQs

You can also download this as a complete guide: Choosing energy saving light bulbs for your home (PDF). Or you can receive printed publications by post (UK only). For this guide in audio or braille formats, please contact: 

Acknowledgements: This guide was produced by Rica with support from the Thomas Pocklington Trust. It includes some test results provided by Which? For full test results, see Which? - Light bulb reviews (subscription fees apply), which also has free advice on energy saving.


A ban on the sales of old-fashioned, incandescent light bulbs began on 1 September 2012. Since this date, you are meant to only buy energy-saving light bulbs. Although there were problems with energy-saving bulbs when they first came out, they have improved a lot since then. And as the technology has advanced, the range of bulbs has grown.

Most shops carry a wide range of bulbs from different manufacturers, which some people can find overwhelming. It's a good idea to go to a specialist electrical shop to buy an energy-saving light bulb. They're more likely to have what you're looking for, and you'll be able to ask for advice and check with them if the packaging isn't clear. They may be the same price as other retailers and will have help on hand.

You can, of course, buy bulbs from other shops or online. Check all the features meet your needs before making your order. This guide outlines the options available to help you decide what's best for each part of your home that needs lighting. 

Bright ideas

It's important to get the lighting in your home right, especially if you can't see well. For an undestanding of the issues about the type of light these new bulbs produce, see our overview: Light qualities of energy-saving bulbs. Knowing how they work will help you choose the right bulb for the right place in your home.

You can also try these tips:

  • Get a new bulb - If you have a problem with an existing energy-saving bulb, just replace it. It may be wearing out, or it may be an early model. You'll almost certainly be able to find a bulb that is more suited to your needs.
  • Get a brighter bulb - A bright energy-saving bulb only costs about £1.50 more per year to run than a less bright one, so if you want the extra light get the brighter bulb.
  • Eye tests - Many people find it harder to see as they get older. Some of the causes of this can be treated. If you're finding it harder, think about an eye test. It may not be your lighting that needs a change.

Last updated: June 2014

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