Low energy lighting - what? why? when? where? and how?

What is low energy lighting and why should I use it?

A low energy light fitting uses low energy light bulbs so it requires less electricity than a standard light fitting.

It's worth noting that low voltage lighting is not the same as low energy lighting. We have an article explaining why low voltage lighting is not low energy lighting.

To further complicate matters are various types of low energy light bulb available, the common ones are LED, cold cathode, and compact fluorescent.

LED LED bulbs are great for effect lighting such as inside a wardrobe, or to highlight a shelf display, or mark the edge of the decking your garden, but the brightness doesn't match cold cathode or compact fluorescent. This means that they are not really suitable for lighting a whole room.
Cold cathode Cold cathode bulbs are great for outdoor signs, such as shop window displays, etc. They are also used in some recessed downlighter products. The main advantage is that they do not heat up in the same way as an incandescent bulbs, and use a lot less energy - up to 60% less.
Compact fluorescent Compact fluorescent bulbs are the best choice for general lighting, as they produce a lot of light, use up to 80% less power than incandescent bulbs and do not reach high temperatures.

Why should I use low energy lighting?

If for no other reason, you should use low energy lighting to save money. Electricity is expensive and you pay for the amount that you use, so if you use less you pay less - it's that simple!

By using less electricity the power stations have to generate less, so they burn less coal and gas and so release less carbon into the atmosphere - this has to be a good thing.

If you're building a new home, or extending your an exiting one, you are likely to be required to install low energy lighting.

Dedicated low energy lighting

One step further than just using low energy light bulbs is to use a dedicated low energy light fitting. A dedicated low energy light fitting will only accept low energy light bulbs. It's not physically possible to install a normal incandescent bulb because the lamp holders have a different type of connection.

The current building regulations (part L) require dedicated low energy lighting to be installed in at least 30% of habitable rooms. All of our low energy light fittings meet this requirement.

As with normal light bulbs there are a variety of lamp holders and lamp caps that are used solely for low energy light bulbs. We have a page that shows the different types of lamp holders and lamp caps commonly in use today.

Where should I use low energy lighting?

In principle you should use low energy lighting everywhere. This might not always be possible as there are still a few limitations to the way the systems works. For instance, current low energy lights are not dimmable like standard lights, so if you need to be able to reduce the level of the lighting in a room (and you can't just turn some lights off) then low energy lighting might not be the best choice.

Building regulations and low energy lighting

As more than 25% of the electricity used in an average house can be used by lighting, building regulations in the UK now state that in all new homes and extensions to existing properties, 30% of all the habitable rooms must have dedicated low energy lighting. (A habitable room does not include a cupboard under the stairs or a pantry etc!)

This means that in a new 3 bedroom house with a kitchen, bathroom and two reception rooms, at least 2 of the rooms must have dedicated low energy lighting installed.

How do I use low energy lighting?

A low energy light fitting is installed in exactly the same way as any other light fitting. You don't need any extra wiring, or equipment. As with all electrical work, we recommend that you employ a qualified electrician to do the installation.

Where can I buy low energy lighting?

You're in the right place! Browse our low energy products using the menus at the top left of this page. My Green Lighting is the UK's leading retailer of dedicated low energy light fittings.