Don't be in the dark about energy-saving light bulbs – 2 September 2009

As the mandatory phase out of old-fashioned light bulbs starts this month, Grimsby Energy Assessor Colin Childs from dispels some common myths about energy-saving light bulbs. ''When we visit northern Lincolnshire homes to produce their Energy Performance Certificates, householders often tell us that they don't like energy-saving light bulbs,'' says Mr Childs. ''The early energy-saving bulbs did suffer from a number of disadvantages and understandably this has put a number of people off. However, energy-efficient bulbs have improved greatly in recent years and Lincolnshire householders need not fear the phasing out of old-fashioned light bulbs.''

Common Myths

Energy-saving lights take ages to warm up: The latest lamps come on instantly and no lamp should come on later than a second or two after flicking the switch.

They are not as bright as old-fashioned bulbs: The light from more recent bulbs is bright and clear and tests conducted by the Energy Saving Trust suggest that the majority of people cannot tell the difference between the light of a new energy-saving lamp and an incandescent bulb.

Energy-saving lights suffer from flicker: Not any more. They used to operate at mains frequency but design changes now mean they operate 1000 times faster, completely eliminating the flicker.

They are not suitable for all light fittings: Newer lamps are much smaller than previous ones and they now come in similar sizes and shapes to incandescent lamps with bayonet and screw fittings.

Energy-saving lights can't be used with dimmer switches: Dimmable versions are now available.

They are far more expensive to buy than standard bulbs: Energy-efficient lamps have come down in price and some are now available at similar prices to old-fashioned bulbs. They save money on electricity bills, up to £3 - £6 per lamp per year, and so the pay back can be seen in months. They also last longer so you don't need to buy them as often.

Energy-saving lights contain mercury: The amount of mercury in a lamp is less than the mercury that would be released into the atmosphere by coal-fired power generation to produce the energy used by an incandescent lamp.

This phasing out means that I will need to change all my light bulbs: No-one will be forced to change their light bulbs or their fittings and retailers will be able to sell on existing stocks of old-fashioned light bulbs.