27 November 2015
Money’s tight. Everything seems more expensive this year than last, the bills keep rolling in and it’s a challenge for families with kids. Given these pressures, households are making the move to energy-efficient lighting and saving themselves hundreds of dollars a year, every year.
Did you know the average Australian household* spends around $2,000 a year on energy and that lighting contributes up to a third of this cost**? That’s a whopping $650 for the average household just to light a home!
Improved technology leads to cheaper globes and reduced consumption
The cost of purchasing energy-efficient LED bulbs has tumbled in the past two years and the technology behind them has improved immensely.
This means that the average household could slash 60-80% from their lighting consumption costs, bringing it down to around $150-$250 a year (from $650), by replacing older-style incandescent and halogen globes with energy efficient lighting such as LED and compact fluorescent lighting (CFLs).
With such savings now a reality for individuals and businesses, we’ve researched the steps required to keep more money in our pocket and give less to the power companies.
“Shaving 30% off your annual power bill is only the beginning of the good news” according to Michelle Alexander at Laser Electrical in Karinie Street, Swan Hill.
“LED globes last around 50 times longer than incandescent globes and 15 times longer than halogen so you also save a lot of money in maintenance costs by not having to replace them as often. This saves you money (repurchasing) and time (reinstalling) and becomes a very important consideration for businesses with policies that only permit an electrician to change a globe” she adds.
For example, 10 Halogen downlights will cost around $176 a year to run (based on 23 cents/kwh). The equivalent cost of 10 LED downlights running for the same time is only $50 a year. That’s an annual saving of $126 on just 10 lights! Many houses built in the past 20 years might have 25-30 downlights, so real annual savings will be closer to $378 without factoring in additional savings for other light fittings (desk, bedside and free-standing lighting)!
Insert annual savings table
While the savings are there to be had, the range of options and technical jargon are not for the faint hearted, so seeking guidance from a professional at a lighting shop makes a lot of sense, however tempting the prices at a supermarket or big-box retailer.
It also goes without saying that energy-efficient lighting adds to the value of a property for sale.
Knowing your colours
- Warm white – a relaxing light (similar glow to incandescent and halogen) well suited to use in the lounge, bedrooms or outside the house.
- Cool white – a neutral colouring suited to kitchens, bathrooms and study areas.
- Daylight – crisp, clean and really bright, even a bit “blueish” you might expect inside a hospital or above a jewellery display cabinet.
Michelle’s buying advice
- It’s important to note that due to the higher cost of purchasing LED bulbs compared with incandescent ($1 a bulb at a supermarket) and halogen ($10), the payback is around 18 months (the point when the money saved in electricity is greater than the once-off cost of fitting)
- Be careful not to buy narrow beam downlights for a general living area where lights should have more “spread” (wider beam).
- Consider what each room is used for and how bright it needs to be. That will help determine the colour (warm, cool, daylight) and level of brightness (Lumens) required.
- Savings are not restricted to downlights; anywhere there is an incandescent or halogen globe savings can be made with LED (for example, desk and bedside lamps)
- Check the LED globe is compatible with existing transformer (if low voltage downlights) before purchasing.
- If there is a variation in cost of light bulbs, apply the “you get what you pay for” rule.
- If building a new house, consider timer sensors for lighting in rooms you don’t use very often.
- With many variables going into selecting the correct lighting for each fitting for each room, always consult a professional in a lighting shop. While numerous retailers sell lights, only a lighting shop has in-depth knowledge (versus generalist knowledge) and can help you avoid costly mistakes.
- Check the warranty before making purchases. Laser Electrical, for example, offer up to 5 years’ warranty on downlights.
It’s all in the numbers
- The lower the watts, the lower your energy consumption (and power bills)
- The higher the lumens, the brighter the light
The final word
“There’s a lot of information to take in and the technology is changing rapidly. If you don’t know where to start, or have a tight budget, start with the room you use the most. But it makes a lot of financial sense to start the move now” concludes Michelle.
Lighting specialists in Swan Hill
- Laser Electrical: 169a Karinie Street, Swan Hill
- McKenzie’s Lighting & Electrical: 254 Campbell Street, Swan Hill
- Conidi Tiles & Lighting: 38 McCallum Street, Swan Hill
* The source of the average Australian household’s electricity costs is derived from this article from the ABC.
** Source: http://www.led-lamps.net.au/led-energy-saving