Energy Efficient Lighting Pt 2 – Halogens

by Jamie on May 29, 2010 · 2 comments

The first post on lighting took a look at CFLs, the cheap and effective replacement for standard incandescent lamps*, but over the last couple of decades, many homeowners have opted for halogen lighting.

Halogen lamps are incandescent i.e. electricity passes through a tungsten filament which heats up and emits light. They differ from the standard incandescent bulbs in that the filament is encased in a capsule full of halogen gas which reacts with the filament in a process called the halogen cycle.

Halogen lamps have a higher efficacy than standard incandescent lamps, but you generally need quite a lot of halogens to light a room so you usually end up using a fair bit more electricity for the same effect. Now, with electricity prices high and rising, what can be done to reduce the electricity consumption from all those halogens?

The cheapest option to cut electricity consumption from halogen lighting is to buy a batch of energy saving halogen lamps. These cost a bit more than the normal ones but use about 30% less electricity and they usually last a bit longer too.

You can also buy halogen replacement CFLs. These are little compact fluorescent lamps that are folded up into a halogen-sized fitting. They’re not cheap (anywhere between £10 and £20 each for a good quality lamp) but they are a lot more efficient than the energy saving halogens and should last a lot longer.

If you have your halogen lights on a dimmer system, be careful as CFLs often can’t handle this, and as with all CFLs you want to make sure that you get one with the kind of light output that you feel comfortable with. Check this post to see what to look for.

Finally there is also the LED (light emitting diode) option.  LED lighting is much more efficient than incandescent lighting and LED lamps have much longer lifetimes (at least the quoted lifetimes are much longer, actual lifetimes remain to be seen).

The main barrier to the widespread uptake of LED lighting now is cost. Good quality LED fittings are still eye wateringly expensive (around £20 to £40 each) but as they’re so efficient and as they should last tens of thousands of hours, they do pay for themselves many times over in energy savings and replacement costs over their lifetime.

I’ll go into more detail on LED lamps in a future post, but briefly, the technology has moved on a lot in the last few years and you can now buy really good quality lamps.

Prices will come down in the next few years so it might be worth holding off for a little while, but if you are going to be redoing the interior of your house and you currently have halogens, it’s probably a good time to consider this technology.

Useful tip: if you are considering investing in these more expensive halogen replacement options, then the best tactic is to replace the bulbs that have the highest use first. By replacing these bulbs you will see the biggest drop in your electricity consumption and they will pay for themselves in the shortest time.

* A lamp is what is more commonly referred to by people outside the industry as a bulb. What we normally call a lamp would be called a luminaire in the industry.


1 Roel LED Lights June 2, 2010 at 4:47 am

I think that LED lighting is the lighting of the future. It’s efficient, thus very eco-friendly.

2 Electricity monitor June 29, 2010 at 7:50 pm

CFL and LED bulbs are very Eco-friendly’s and energy savers. Every home should use CFL and LED bulbs to reduce energy cost as well as to kicking carbon to the environment.

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