The leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air and the clocks are going back this Sunday. Darker evenings mean we’re switching on our lights earlier and using more electricity. But you could keep your bill in summer trim by switching to LED bulbs.
LED light bulbs have improved rapidly, and now there are plenty of advantages to using them instead of traditional bulbs. Here’s why it might be time to convert to LED bulbs as the winter darkness draws in:
1. LED light bulbs last longer
We know from our years of testing that LED light bulbs last longer than old-style bulbs, saving you from the hassle of constantly replacing them.
When we tested the durability of LEDs, we found that 80% last 15,000 hours. That’s equivalent to two hours of use a day for 20 years, and far longer than the life span of a halogen bulb.
Use our light bulb reviews to find the best LED bulbs we’ve tested.
2. You can save on LED light bulbs
LED bulbs are more expensive up front than halogen, but they are getting cheaper. We’ve found Best Buy LEDs for as little as £3.50. And they’re definitely better value for money – using as much as 90% less energy than a traditional incandescent light bulb.
Their durability means they’re cost-effective too. If you bought four Best Buy 100W-equivalent LED for £12 each that would be a big initial outlay. But they’d only cost you £72 in energy if you had them on for three hours a day for the next 10 years (based on electricity costs of 16.41p/kWh). So you don’t have to be spooked by the up-front costs.
On the other hand, if you bought four 100W-equivalent halogen bulbs and used them for three hours a day instead, they’d cost you more than £500 in energy over that period. You’d have to replace each bulb several times, too.
Read our five tips for choosing the right light bulb before you go shopping.
3. LEDs give out a good level of light
You may have heard that energy-saving bulbs are slow to brighten up. It’s true that CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps – the standard type of energy-saving bulb) do take a few minutes to reach full brightness. But LEDs, like halogens, come on instantly – chasing away the winter gloom as soon as you flick the switch.
While energy-saving light bulbs used to be known for getting dimmer over time, this isn’t the case anymore for the best ones. We check each bulb’s light output when it’s first turned on, and at regular intervals, to see if they stay bright.
It’s true that some LED bulbs still can’t replicate colours in your home as accurately as old-style light bulbs, but the best ones won’t make a noticeable difference and will give out a nice warm light.
…and they can even look pretty
If you’re thinking wistfully of how pretty old-style light bulbs look, perhaps what you need is a filament LED bulb. These look like old-fashioned incandescent bulbs with filaments but, unlike energy-hungry halogens, they’ll also cost less to run.
Which? tests reveal which filament LED bulbs have been crowned Best Buys.
One thing to bear in mind: whichever bulbs you go for, make sure they’re compatible with your light fittings. There are lots of fittings to chose from, so if possible, take the old bulb you’re replacing to the shop with you so you don’t have a wasted trip. You’ll need to cross-check the fitting reference number against the packaging of the new bulb you’re buying. Our guide explains more about choosing a light bulb with the right fitting.