From art instillations to entire festivals, LED lights have come a long way from their humble beginnings as power indicators. Now LED is the most efficient bulb choice for your home, reducing your lighting bill by up to 90%. But if your on the fence whether to LEDo or LEDon't, this is the guide for you.
We enlisted Simon Brammer a programmer manager at sustainable energy charity to Ashden provide you with his definitive guide to all things LED. Simon successfully LED-ified his home and has been advising friends and family on the subject ever since.
Over to you Simon!
Where to start?
It sounds obvious, but the best place to start is to work out which lights are on the most, and replace them first. In this way, you will maximise your saving. How much light?
As rough guide, if you want the equivalent of an ‘old school’ 100 watt light bulb, go for 10 watts, 60 watts – 6 watts, 40 watts – 4 watts. The mathematicians among you will spot a rough 10% rule. For spotlights, replace a 50 watt GU 10 with a 4 watt LED bulb.
Light temperature (colour) is measured in Kelvin (K). The lower the number, the warmer the light. Because I like a warm light, 2700K is my preference – it’s like the light from an old-fashioned bulb. 3000K is less warm, and then as you go up the light becomes cooler and whiter – anything approaching 5000k will be nearly blue. Sometimes these are called ‘warm white’ or ‘cool white’. So, depending on your preference, check the packet to make sure have the right colour for you.
Do you want to dim your lights?
You will have to pay a little more for dimmable bulbs, but they are available across the range. Look for the ‘dimmable’ symbol on the packet. Just a word of warning – occasionally, because LED lights use so little energy, you may need to change your dimmer switches too (ask a qualified electrician to do this for you).
Got the right fitting?
You will have a range of light bulbs in your home with different fittings – just make sure you match the fitting to the one you are buying. The best way to do this is to take the old bulb along with you. If you are replacing down-lights or spotlights, take one out (when it is cold and switched off) and see if it has ‘pegs’ or ‘pins’.
If it has pegs, this is mains voltage (a GU10 fitting) and is no problem to change. If it has pins, this is low voltage lighting and is a little more complicated. You may need some advice from a professional as to which bulbs will work in your home.
When you are changing your lighting, think of it like re-decorating a room, where you would buy a ‘paint tester pot’ to see if you like the colour first before you paint the whole room. When you are investing in new bulbs, buy one first to see if you like it before you replace the rest. And remember, most places will exchange the bulb if it is the wrong one for you.
Once you have changed your bulbs, you can sit back (you won’t need to get up to change them for an average of 15 years) and bask in their glow – and be smug in the knowledge you’re quid’s in!