It might seem strange to view a lightbulb or a shower head as a long-term investment for the home but that’s what buying the right eco products means.
In the old days, you would not give a second thought to buying some incandescent bulbs when one blew or a replacement shower head for the clogged and ageing one in your bathroom. These were just ongoing household costs.
Back then, say 15 years, energy and water were cheap utilities and you could buy lightbulbs and shower heads for a very low cost.
Fast forward and we are having to manage our household budgets in a very different time, where the only way is up with energy and water bills as costs of production and transmission continue to rise, while the urgent need to drastically reduce carbon emissions drives up prices. With 25% of the average home’s electricity used in lighting, it’s essential to get value for money.
Ofsted figures show that average domestic electricity bills more than doubled between 2004-14. They are set to double again over the next decade as well.
So it makes sense to find ways of reducing energy and water consumption that work over the longer term. And the return on investment from purchasing quality eco products is excellent. As soon as the product pays for itself through savings on bills, it then goes on to save money for many years.
Built to Last
It’s true that an LED lightbulb you buy to replace the halogen or filament bulb that’s just blown costs a lot more than the product it replaces. But there are two factors to remember. First, the more expensive LED bulb uses up to 85% less electricity than the obsolete bulb it is replacing. Second, the LED bulb should continue to shine for many years – LEDs are built to last. Think that an old incandescent bulb would blow after maybe 1,000 hours of use and compare that with an LED that can last up to 50,000 hours.
So, the energy savings help to repay the initial purchase costs very quickly, then you go on saving money on electricity bills for a decade or more with every LED you buy.
The price of LED bulbs continues to drop but you should choose quality products from recognised and trusted brands. LED bulbs are more complex technology than traditional bulbs and manufacturing them requires the highest levels of quality control to ensure safety and robustness.
There are LEDs for screw, bayonet and pin fittings and the widest range of types for most domestic needs, including classic bulbs, downlights, spotlights, tubes and candle bulbs.
You can find cheap versions that look like to be a bargain but these are too often of very poor quality, giving off a bad light with a high failure rate and in some cases safety issues. You want your investment choice to be a good one.
How Much Could be Saved?
There are good examples of people doing just that. A couple in Yorkshire with a five-bedroom home and many light fittings, including chandeliers, spent £500 on LED bulbs but electricity savings meant this was repaid in just over 12 months and they continue to save £400 a year on their lighting energy bills.
At SaveMoneyCutCarbon, we carried out our own analysis of energy and water savings achieved by a range of domestic customers and found that combined annual savings for an average three-bedroom home could be over £500 a year.
For example, fitting LED bulbs, eco shower head and eco taps in the bathroom would cost around £115 and save £278 a year. The eco shower head works by mixing air with the water flow to reduce consumption by 50% and the eco taps work in a similar way, with no loss of quality.
Both help you save money directly if you are metered while reducing bills as less energy is needed to heat and pump the water. Well designed and robustly manufactured eco showers and eco taps should need minimal maintenance with easy cleaning and long working life. This means you go on saving on bills for a decade or more with average use, after rapid payback on initial cost.
With water costs rising – the latest hike takes the average household bill to for water and sewerage to £393 – you need to control consumption over the long term and fitting water-efficient taps and shower heads is clearly the best way to do that.
Savings should ensure that you get a rapid ROI on initial investment and then go on saving money. Well-manufactured eco shower heads and eco taps should, with average use, give you hassle-free savings for many years.
Both LEDs and water products go beyond the excellent financial savings to benefit the planet. As less energy and water is consumed, this also reduces CO2 emissions and lighting accounts for nearly 6% of global CO2 emissions.
So, for example, a 100-watt traditional light bulb on for four hours a day would mean the power station creating the electricity would produce 125kg of CO2 in a year. By switching to LED, and using let’s say 80% less energy, the power station would reduce carbon emissions by 100 kg each year.
If there was a global move to LED lighting, the Climate Group estimates that 1,400 million less tonnes of CO2 would be produced, meaning no need to construct 1,250 power stations.
The Group recognizes LED lighting “as one of the most actionable and ready-to-implement technologies for cities to transition to a low carbon economy and peak emissions in the next decade”.