Philip is on holiday this week. In his absence, Matt Wright – the Energy Saving Trust’s Director of Customer Insight – has been passed the mantle and written a guest post.

If you were to believe everything you read in the papers, hear on the radio, or see on television, you might be mistaken into thinking that energy saving light bulbs, whilst being environmentally sound, aren’t actually very good at the job they’re designed for – lighting. You’d probably also be under the impression that they’re bigger than standard bulbs, aren’t suitable for half your light fittings and not dimmable.

Stripping away the negative myths surrounding energy saving lighting and the following facts emerge:

  • Energy saving light bulbs use up to 80 per cent less electricity than a traditional bulb but produce the same amount of light – they use a different technology to traditional bulbs, enabling them to produce a highly efficient light using a fraction of the energy.
  • Advances in technology mean that energy saving bulbs are now available in a wide variety of fittings, shapes and sizes. Nowadays, there are even halogen and dimmable energy saving bulbs on the market.
  • Depending on how long your lights are in use every day, just one energy saving lightbulb could save you up to £7 a year. And because it will last up to 10 times longer than a standard bulb, it could save you around £60 before it needs replacing.
  • Fit all the lights in your house with energy saving bulbs and you could save around £600 over the lifetime of the bulbs.
  • And before you ask, these savings take into account the higher cost of energy saving lightbulbs. These days, the average price is only £3 a bulb, so you’ll usually recoup the extra outlay within a year.

Of course, altering the public’s perception about energy saving lighting is easier said than done. One of our spokespeople – Frances Galvanoni – was recently on the Today programme on Radio 4, busting the myths surrounding energy saving lighting – never an easy task, when John Humphreys is interviewing you. Clearly this discussion was a hot topic amongst the public, given the pages and pages of responses posted to the associated Radio 4 online web-board, entitled “What are the merits and problems of so called energy saving light bulbs? Should we all be switching our bulbs to the energy saving variety?” You can view the debate by clicking here.

That said, our own research confirms householders are starting to embrace energy saving lighting into their daily lives. More than half (52 per cent) of those without any energy saving bulbs say they plan to fit them and for those who have already adopted the use of energy saving bulbs, over three quarters (79 per cent) plan to buy more.

There is one final (and psychologically difficult) barrier to overcome in order for energy saving lighting (and in fact many other environmental products) to become the norm; making it aspirational and desirable.  If we’re being honest, the word ‘cool’ or ‘aspirational’ is very rarely used in the same sentence as ‘environmental’. That’s why we are absolutely delighted that the Tom Dixon Energy Saving Installation took place in Trafalgar Square between 17th and 19th September, during which time a total of 3,500 Glowb energy saving light bulbs were used and given away over the course of the three-day installation.
This is a double-win – firstly because if the 3,500 energy saving light bulbs given away are used in place of standard 60 watt equivalent bulbs, then 754 tonnes of carbon dioxide and £212,000 would be saved in electricity bills – and secondly because the bulbs were presented in an innovative, attractive and eye-catching display – something which will hopefully make them more aspirational to those who viewed the exhibition.

We’ve also recently published a guide to energy saving lighting. You can download it for free by clicking here.

Innovative, creative and energy saving – the Tom Dixon Energy Installation