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Friday 13th

Energy Saving Bulbs Explored

Author: Paul Marchant
Published: November 29, 2012

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Energy saving bulbs have fairly quickly become “standard” light bulbs over the last decade. The inefficient filament bulbs of old are now hard to find, and the UK has taken a more aggressive approach to the phasing-out of environmentally-unfriendly bulbs than Europe in general.

The UK government is at the driving seat of the initiative, pushing through legislation that sped-up the process massively - starting with the putting an end to light bulbs greater than 100W.

It’s fair to say that energy saving light bulbs are the norm here in the UK, but there's still a lot of murky terminology that could do with clearing up. One of the core issues facing the bulb buyer is how these bulbs are marketed.

Low energy or energy saving - is there a difference? There is actually none at all, they are merely two ways to express the same types of technology. A much more accurate way to check out how energy efficiently a lightbulb runs is to compare the actual wattage of the bulb to the equivalent filament wattage.

Although low-energy bulbs are used virtually everywhere throughout the UK, bulb packaging still largely relies on the legacy measurements, generally 40W, 60W or 75W. Having said that, by law packaging is now required to show the lumen value at twice the size of the wattage, therefore drawing attention to the light value rather than the power involved.

Standard energy saving bulbs can roughly be split into four types - GLS, Candles, Golfballs and Reflectors. The most familiar of the quartet is the GLS, which stands for General Lighting Service. These bulbs use the stereotypical lightbulb design, for a traditional look.


Our Energy Saving Halogen GLS Clear is available in wattages equivalent to 28W, 42W, 70W or a super-bright 105W, while using 30 percent less power than the incandescent type. With a look just like the old type, they're designed to act as a straight swap for bulbs that are no longer available, and come they come with either a bayonet or screw fitting.

This GLS bulb lasts for on average 2,000 hours, but lower-power GLS bulbs can last for even longer. The Value Low GLS bulb is rated at either 11w or 15w, and is rated for a huge 10,000 hours of use. However, this type of bulb doesn't support dimming, while the previous type does.


The golfball type of bulb takes the GLS shape and makes it more space-efficient, resulting in a rounded dome shape. The key benefit to this type of lightbulb is that it lets the whole thing get a lot smaller.

Our standard Clear Golfball Halogen Energy Saver comes with both standard-size and small-size fittings, using both the bayonet and screw type. This makes it perfectly suitable for smaller light fittings that either don't offer the space for a full-size bulb, or look a little odd with one.

Like the GLS type, there are standard power energy saving bulbs that offer around a 30 percent energy efficiency improvement and lower-powered options that increase the energy efficiency and stamina, to around 10,000 hours. Once again, though, this higher-efficiency type doesn't support dimming.

Candle Bulbs

For fittings that require a more slender bulb to look right, you should consider the candle type, which has its most bulbous part early on in the bulb's body rather than right at the end.

Our clear-bodied Energy Saving Halogen Candle comes in both standard and small screw/bayonet fittings, letting them slot into smaller light fittings, like the golfball type. In the incandescent wattage standard, 60W, 40W and 25W bulbs are available, while using just 42W, 28W and 18W of power, respectively.

A more efficient option is here too. Although the “B” rated energy efficient candles cost around twice the price of the standard clear type, they provide greater energy efficiency and up to around four times the lifespan. The quality of light is a little different, though, with a translucent finish that gives warmer output.


The last energy saving bulb type to cover is the one that arguably has the greatest functional effect upon light output – the reflector bulb. Here, a significant proportion of the bulb is coated in reflective material, giving the bulb far more directionality than the standard type.

These types of bulb are often used in spotlights. Our Osram Halogen reflectors come with both small and standard screw fittings, the most common type for this sort of light. Due to this sort of usage, the reflector is available as a high powered 70W (with over 100W output by incandescent standards) bulb, although this power is only available in the standard-size fitting.

Alternatively, the Megaman Extra Long Life reflectors offer truly staggering stamina, rated for up to 15,000 hours of use. Grade A energy efficiency means that the small screw 7W model pumps out the equivalent of 35W of power, while the 11W and 15W models crank out 60W and 75W a piece. They cost a little more than regular bulbs, but when they offer such jaw-dropping performance, it's worth the extra.

Need a few more options? Take a look at our full selection of Energy Saving Bulbs.

Looking for more news, information or inspiration? Try our Lighting Advice section.