The Energy Saving Trust’s report Powering The Nation is an unprecedented in-depth look at the UK’s electricity consumption and provides some of the richest information on lighting usage to date. Domestic energy use in the UK is currently responsible for a quarter of the nation’s CO2 carbon emissions and such reports are vital if we are to achieve the Government’s target of a 34% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 80% by 2050.
As part of the study The Energy Saving Trust surveyed 251 owner occupied households in the UK from 2010 to 2011. Twenty-six homes were monitored for a year and the other 225 for one month each on a rolling basis. The study was mindful to use a representative demographic and households spread nationwide.
The study observed households on a room by room basis in order to produce a targeted breakdown of electrical consumption. The table below splits households into six sectors taking into consideration both room use and product function. The living room tops the table with an average running cost of £70-£300, primarily for entertainment purposes. The kitchen was not far behind with a high running cost at an average of £150-£185. Although lighting electrical usage clocked in with one of the lowest top ended ranges of £84, it has one of the highest bottom end ranges at £60. This shows, as expected, that everyone relies on lighting in the home and unlike entertainment costs of the living room, lighting is an essential expense rather than a lifestyle choice.
||Running Cost (Typical Range £)
||150 – 185
||Washing and Cleaning
||32 – 130
||70 – 300
||25 – 60
||60 – 84
||10 – 100
||347 – 859
A breakdown of room/product running costs in the home.
Lighting is a significant contributor to energy consumption in the home with an estimated 17% slice of the household electricity pie. Although the uptake of new energy saving technologies has seen a reduction in electricity use in recent years, the report highlights the vast untapped energy saving potential of UK domestic lighting. This is put into sharp focus when remembering that in 2010 the UK consumed 13% more electricity than the European average and 36% more than Germany.
Firstly, consider the type of light bulbs found in the 251 homes surveyed.
||Average number of light sources per type of lamp technology
||Light sources by share of installed wattage
|Compact Fluorescent (CFL)
|Low Voltage Halogen
Information based on an average of 33.6 lamps per household.
Incandescent light bulbs account for 40% of bulbs found but consume nearly half of the electricity used; and are thus the most inefficient form of lighting in the survey. Whereas CFLs make up 20% of the bulbs but only contribute 6.7% of energy use; making them a fantastic low energy solution. Low voltage halogens and fluorescents also rate well in terms of efficiency but traditional halogens were found to be a high consumption option with a household average of 5.1 lamps using 27.2% of electricity.
Surprisingly 0.2/33.6 of light bulbs per household were LED. The explanation for this probably lies in the fact the survey took place from 2010/11 and since then improvement in reliability and falling cost has dramatically augmented LED sales. In addition, the findings are only from a relatively small sample size and anomalies diverging from the national trend, though unlikely, could occur.
From this information we can infer that in 2010/11 LEDs had failed to permeate the lighting market at a domestic level. Arguments such as high cost, limited recycling, poor colour rendering, restricted retro-fit ability and lack of consumer awareness are all valid reasons as to why this was the case. However, almost certainly if the study was to be carried out again today the LED sector would see the greatest change, particularly since the EU phase out of inefficient light bulbs has forced consumers to switch to low energy options.
Chart displaying electrical room lighting use in the home
Choosing the correct bulb type for a specific purpose is essential when trying to reduce lighting costs. Consider the chart above which shows the average wattage consumption per household room.
The report shows that as expected the greatest energy consumption comes from lamps in the kitchen and lounge with peak time occurring between 9pm and 11pm in the evening at a range of 130 to 200 Watts per household. The lowest wattage consumption rooms turned out to be office, store and circulation space where lights were switched off for long periods of time. Lighting continued to be used throughout the night in the majority of homes, but limitations with the study meant specific light sources were not recorded. The average electrical consumption for lighting over the year clocked in at 537kWh, the equivalent of £77 per household from a range of £60-£84. Compare this to an average estimated usage of 52kWh or £6 per year for a door bell or 166kWh or £24 for a desktop computer.
Although the report does not specify which bulbs were used in each room, clearly different bulbs have their own purpose. For example, although LEDs are generally the lowest wattage bulb type on the market, installing them in a store room which uses 40w per year on average or in a fridge light would not represent value for money. In fact, given the cost of the bulb, it would take years and years to recoup any energy saving benefits if at all. Whereas LED spot bulbs in a kitchen which consumes 249w per year are likely to yield a return through reduced electrical consumption in only a matter of months or a few years.
Although there is not a huge variation in lighting use across different household types, the use of lighting in single person households comes out slightly more than in multi-person households. There was a 33% increase in lighting spend between a single person pensioner home and a multi-person pensioner home. There was also a £5 per year increase spend between a single adult and a multi-person household with no children. Perhaps surprisingly a household with children came out with one of the lower lighting costs at 477 kWh or £69 per year.
What does this all mean for the future of lighting?
Unit cost and energy consumption are key considerations when looking to purchase an energy saving light bulb. Many people clearly still favour the traditional incandescent technology but market share of low priced energy saving alternatives is growing. The LED market is in a state of constant evolution but recent trends indicate a turn towards low energy technologies. LED is the future of lighting in those parts of the home that use lights all the time e.g. the kitchen, but until we get there there are plenty of energy saving products on the market such as CFL and halogen energy savers that can reduce energy consumption by 30-40% without compromising light output. The fact that such reports like Powering The Nation are published reflects an increased awareness of carbon issues and sustainability that can only be beneficial going forward.
As a result the National Grid estimates that electrical demand for lighting could fall by a half by 2020 from 12.5 terawatt hours down to 6 terawatt hours, even if the number of bulbs in use rises.
To view our full range of low energy light bulbs, please click here.
Other key conclusions from the report:
- Households spend an average of £50-£86 per year on standby appliances which equates to 9-16% of domestic power.
- Our TV watching habit is worse than feared! Instead of the assumed five hours of TV viewing per household per day this figure is likely to be nearer to six and thus an extra 10bn hours nationwide.
- Use of appliances in single person households for lighting, cooking and washing is on average equal or higher than that of multi person households. The number of single person households increased from 7m in 2000 to 7.5m in 2010 a trend which if continued could augment energy consumption figures nationwide.
- We run an average of 5.5 clothes washes per week, and those with tumble dryers use them to dry clothes 80% of the time.
- ‘Two can live as cheaply as one’ when it comes to lighting electrical consumption.
The report claims that 76% of the nation ‘think about saving energy in the home’, but with increased awareness of electrical use that figure is certainly on the rise!
Our free online energy saving calculator is a great way to review your home lighting use, alternatively please call us on 01462 490066 or email firstname.lastname@example.org we will be happy to provide energy saving advice.
Our lighting recommendations for the home are as follows:
Kitchen – LED GU10
Hall – CFL
Landing – CFL
Living Room – LED and Decorative Halogen
Bathroom – Halogen Energy Saver
Garage – Halogen Energy Saver
Utility – Halogen Energy Saver
Dining Room/Drawing Room – Decorative Halogen Energy Saver
Statistical information sourced from: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Publications2/Corporate/Research-and-insights/Powering-the-nation-household-electricity-using-habits-revealed