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Things to consider when choosing light bulbs

In addition to choosing bulbs that are the correct brightness for your home, there are other issues to think about when deciding what type of energy-saving light bulbs you should buy.

Start-up time

Halogen and LED bulbs, like old-fashioned bulbs, light up immediately as soon as you switch them on. CFL bulbs take some time to come on, and to get up to full brightness, though they have improved since the first CFL bulbs came out. There's a wide range in performance, with the fastest bulbs reaching full brightness in around 30 seconds and others taking over 5 minutes.

In bathrooms, halls and stairways, it's important for the light to come on quickly.

Get a 'quick start' CFL bulb for these areas - they come on in less than 30 seconds. They are likely to cost an extra pound or two, but they will help to keep you safe.


Halogen bulbs can be used with dimmer switches, but most LEDs and CFL bulbs cannot. You can now get dimmable CFL and LED bulbs, which you should be able to identify by the packaging. If you want really good dimming performance, it may be better to stick to halogen bulbs.


Both halogen and LED bulbs can be used with timers, as well as light- or movement-sensitive (photocell) lights. CFL bulbs cannot currently be used with timers or photocell circuits.

Last updated: June 2014

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