Saving Electricity by Turning Off Lights – Is it worth the bother?

Remembering to switch off lights isn’t my best trait. My husband has to continually remind me, it seems like he is following me around the house switching lights off.

The problem is that I always have several things on my mind as I leave a room. Distraction coupled with general forgetfulness means I often don’t remember to switch off.

But is my husband right to nag me about this? We now have low energy bulbs throughout the house. Each bulb costs pennies to run each day. The savings we make by switching off lights seem very little.

How much electricity can we really save by switching lights off and does saving electricity help the environment?

Here’s what I found.

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Why save electricity?

saving electricity

It might seem like turning off the light doesn’t make much difference to your electric bill or your carbon footprint. But, if we all make an effort, conserving electricity can make a colossal impact on the health of our planet.

By turning off lights and saving electricity in your home in general, you can help in a couple of huge ways.

You can help the environment

If you use less energy in your home you can directly affect the environment, because the less energy we use the fewer fossil fuels are needed to make the electricity.

We are slowly moving more and more to renewable energy such as wind farms, and solar but there is a long way to go. The world is still burning fossil fuels to make around 80% of the worlds energy consumption

Reduce carbon emissions

When you burn fewer fossil fuels less carbon is pumped into the air. Carbon is very efficient at absorbing the sun’s infrared energy which causes the atmosphere to heat up. The more carbon there is, the more heat is produced and this heat has been found to cause adverse weather conditions, a rise in sea levels, more natural disasters and abnormal weather patterns.

How much energy can you save by turning off lights?

Switching to more efficient electrical items in our homes such as washing machines and dishwashers can help us to save electricity, but something you can also do is to switch off lights.

How much energy you save on lighting your home depends on the type of bulb you use and the cost you pay for your electricity.

Let’s say you pay £0.12 for your electricity, here is the cost you would pay for each kind of bulb.

Type Wattage Cost Per 1,000 Hours Cost Per Day
Incandescent 60 £7.20 £0.17
Halogen 43 £5.16 £0.12
CFL 15 £1.80 £0.04
LED 12 £1.44 £0.03

Each of those lightbulbs are different in terms of the light produced and energy efficiency. Let’s take a deeper look at each one.

Incandescent bulbs

Incandescent bulb

Incandescent bulbs are the oldest types of bulb in use today. They are the least efficient of all. If you have some stray bulbs like these at home it is a very good idea to switch to a low energy one.

In the UK they have been banned from manufacture, but shops are allowed to sell off their old stock.

How much electricity does an incandescent bulb consume?

A 60W incandescent bulb consumes 0.06 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per hour. Assuming the cost per kWh is £0.12 the total cost for 1,000 hours would equal £7.20.

Halogen bulbs

Halogen bulb

Halogen bulbs are a little more efficient than an incandescent bulb, using about 25% less energy for the same light output.

How much electricity does a halogen bulb consume?

At a rate of £0.12 per kWh a 43W halogen bulb would cost £5.16 per 1,000 hours.

CFL bulb

CFL bulb

A 15W compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) uses about 70-80% less energy than an incandescent bulb. It was the first type of low-energy bulb to be manufactured.

How much electricity does a CFL bulb consume?

A 15W CFL bulb would cost about £1.80 to run for 1,000 hours assuming the rate per Kwh is £0.12.

LED bulb

LED bulb

Light-emitting diodes (LED) are the most efficient of all at up to 80% efficiency over traditional bulbs.

How much electricity does a LED bulb consume?

A 12W LED bulb would cost £1.44 to run for 1,000 hours based on £0.12 cost per kWh.

How much does it cost to leave a light on for 24 hours?

This depends on the type of bulb you are using and the cost of electricity per kilowatt-hour.

Let’s use an example of a 15W low energy CFL bulb at £0.12. per kWh.

At those rates, a thousand hours would cost £1.80 which means for 24 hours it would cost £0.0432.

Do you waste more electricity by turning the lights on and off?

Is turning lights on and off bad?

It’s a myth that turning lights on and off uses up more electricity than if you had left it on continuously.

However, the lifetime of CFL bulbs is affected by how many times they are switched on and off. If you keep turning a light on and off, it won’t use any more electricity, but the bulb will not last as long.

The advice is, don’t turn off bulbs to save 15 minutes or less energy. It is not worth the saving because you wear the bulb out more than the cost of the electricity.

For any other type of bulb, it is fine to turn it on and off as often as you need.

Energy-saving tips

energy saving tips

Use a motion detector (PIR)

I found that using a motion detector switch in the bathroom helped a lot of forgetful boys! It switches the light on automatically when you go in and then off again when it detects no activity.

I guess it would have been better for the long term to train them to switch off, but I have to say that even I forget, so it has been very helpful.

Motion detector switch in our bathroom

Make the most of natural daylight

It seems obvious, but don’t forget to open the curtains rather than switch on a light. I have lost count of the number of times I go into my teenager’s room and find the curtains closed and the light on! 😠

Choose low energy light bulbs

Always choose low-energy bulbs, though you probably don’t have a choice now because the incandescent sort isn’t manufactured any longer. Shops might still be selling their old stock though. If you have any old bulbs be sure to switch them out for low-energy, they will last longer too.

Dim lights instead

If you can, dim your lights instead of having them on full strength. Some bulbs don’t dim very smoothly so beware of that. We have a dimmer in our lounge which doesn’t dim very well at all.

Don’t light up the whole room, use freestanding lamps

If you don’t need the whole room lit up, switch on a table lamp or freestanding lamp instead.

Use a timer

If you keep forgetting to turn off your lights when you go to bed, consider putting them on a timer. Timers have the added benefit of keeping your house more secure because you can make it look as if you are in the house when in fact you are out.

Control your lights with an app on your phone

This is something I have never done I have to say. Home automation is a whole new subject, but if you are clever enough to set up automation with your lights and electrical items it could put energy saving on autopilot.

Decorate dark rooms in light colours to brighten them

Do you have a particularly dark room where you tend to turn lights on during the day just to brighten it up? Why not consider redecorating it using some light colours that make the most of the light you have?

This article and its contents are owned by sparklingpenny.com and was first published on 1 July 2021.

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Penny | SparklingPenny

Hi, I'm Penny. A busy mum of two boys, with the aim to enjoy life to the full.