At home

Lighting

When considering the comparative costs of lighting products, it is important to take into account their purpose and positioning within your home.

For instance, a study or kitchen would require a good spread of light, whereas softer lighting would be more appropriate for a bedroom or dining room. Halogen and light emitting diodes (LED) downlights do not provide as good a spread of light as compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) bulbs, so many more would be required to fully light a room. They are best suited for spotlights and highlights.

A traditional incandescent light-bulb can use four times as much power as an energy-efficient type.

Incandescent lighting is the most energy-inefficient and expensive to run of all household options - using several times the energy of other types and usually needs replacing more often than CFL or LED.  

CFLs can replace incandescent lights in most cases, though they are not recommended for enclosed light fittings, as heat can build up within the fitting. CFLs are best for frequently used rooms where the lights are on for at least three hours at a time (the lifespan of CFLs can be reduced if they light is switched on and off frequently), and are great for difficult-to-reach fixtures, as they won't need to be replaced as often.

Running costs

Lighting

Power

Annual cost*

Compact fluorescent lamp

15w

$5

Compact fluorescent lamp

20w

$7

Incandescent globe

75w

$26

Incandescent globe

100w

$35

12-volt halogen downlight

50w

$23

LED downlight

15w lamp and transformer

$5

Fluorescent tube

18w

$6

Fluorescent tube

36w

$13

* Based on three hours of use per day, 350 days per year at 32 cents/kWh.

 

The lighting level required for a room depends on its size and the main activities taking place. When switching to using CFL or LED bulbs, check that the output is equivalent to the one you are replacing and the light fitting (bayonet or screw) is compatible.

CFLs and LEDs are available in different colour temperatures, often expressed as a rating (the lower the number, the warmer the light). Bulbs giving warm white or yellowish light (2700K or 3000K) provide a warm environment for bedrooms and living rooms, while cool white or white (4000K or 5000K) give bright light for kitchens and bathrooms. Not all are compatible with dimmable light fittings, so check before you buy.

A 15 or 18-watt LED downlight can achieve the same light output as a 50-watt halogen bulb, and will be many times cheaper to run. For further savings, it is best to buy the LED lamp and fitting as a unit.

Recommended lighting levels for rooms

The amount of lighting you require depends on the type of activity taking place – whether the whole room is to be lit for a general activity, or just a small area for a specific activity, such as reading or cooking. The following table provides some guidance:

Table key

X Recommended lighting source

# Alternative lighting source

Room

Lighting type

Quartz halogen

Tubular fluorescent

Compact fluorescent

Solar

Kitchen

General

 

X

X

 

Specific

X

     

Living room

General

 

#

   

Specific

#

 

X

 

Dining room

General

#

#

X

 

Specific

X

 

#

 

Study

General

 

#

X

 

Specific

#

 

X

 

Master bedroom

General

 

#

X

 

Specific

 

#

X

 

Children's bedroom

General

 

#

X

 

Specific

#

 

X

 

Laundry

 

General

 

X

   

Specific

X

 

#

 

Hallway

 

General

 

#

X

 

Specific

X

 

#

 

Bathroom

General

 

X

   

Specific

   

X

 

Outdoor feature

General

X

#

#

X

Security (constant)

Specific

 

#

X

X

Security (motion detection)

Specific

#

     

 Table key

X   Recommended lighting source

#   Alternative lighting source

 

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Page last updated: 10 December 2015