Environmental Information Exchange


On average between 15 - 20% of total energy costs are on lighting. Lighting is efficient when minimal energy is used to generate the lighting and the lighting is only on when necessary. Some practical measures to reduce energy use include:

Fluorescent lights

Technology is rapidly increasing the efficiency of fluorescent tubes. They are cost effective, have relatively low wattage and emit less heat. The start mechanisms for fluorescent lights have also become more efficient.
Fluorescent tube size is measured in length and diameter. T12 tubes (1.5 inches in diameter) have been replaced with T8 tubes (1 inch in diameter) that emit the same amount of light using 10% less energy. T5 tubes use 10% less energy than T8 tubes and emit the same light. T8 and T12 tubes are physically interchangeable as they use the same bi-pin cap and are the same length.
Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) can be used to replace incandescent bulbs. Dimmable CFL lights are also available.

LED lights

LED bulbs and tubes are more expensive to purchase but use very low amounts of energy and have a much longer lifespan than other types of bulbs, of approximately 50,000 hours. This means that in areas with frequent lighting usage, LED lights will be more cost effective over the life time of the bulb or tube. LED lights are also available in dimmable versions.
Incandescent lighting is the traditional tungsten light bulbs in small spaces and homes. These lights rely on the resistance of the filament to electricity, causing it to heat up. These bulbs are no longer manufactured and should be replaced with low energy alternatives, which use less energy to produce the same amount of light and have a longer lifespan.
Traditionally light bulbs were sold according to wattage, however it is more useful for consumers to look for the number of lumens as this indicates the amount of light the bulb will produce, rather than the amount of energy it takes to power it.

Lighting type

Watts (approximate)

Lumens (approximate)

LED bulb



LED tube



CFL bulb



Fluorescent tube



Incandescent bulb



Lighting controls

There are a range of lighting controls to help reduce the amount of energy used. The appropriateness of each type is based on the usage of each room or area in the building.

Labelling for lighting

Improvements in lighting technology mean wattage is no longer a sufficient method of determining light output.  New information, including lumens (the amount of light output) is now being provided by suppliers about light bulbs and other lighting products.  The information is intended to help compare lighting to understand the benefits of one product over another.  The following table summarises the information suppliers will provide about lighting products.





The amount of electricity the light uses

Used for calculating the amount of energy lighting will use over time.


A measurement of the strength of light output

Determines the actual brightness of lighting (replaces wattage as a method of measurement)

Colour temperature

A measurement of the quality of light output

Defines the type or ‘feel’ of the light output (sometimes explained as warm, white, or daylight)

Product life

A measurement of the average life expectancy of the light

Useful in calculating running costs over a period of time particularly as some technology outlasts others by a factor of 5 to 1.

Number of switches before failure

A measurement of the life expectancy of the light related to the frequency it is turned on and off

Useful consideration when considering limits of lighting technology

Warm up times

A measurement of time before full light output is emitted

Relevant for uses when full lighting is needed instantly


A description of the light’s ability to be dimmed

Appropriate for multiuse lighting

Operating temperature

The optimum temperature required for the light product to function correctly

A consideration for exterior lighting particularly