Energy-efficient lighting: LED lights – economical and flexible

When it comes to lighting, there is considerable potential for making savings: German households could reduce the amount of electricity they use for lighting by 80 per cent simply by switching to energy-efficient LED lights. LEDs use around 90 per cent less electricity than conventional incandescent bulbs and 70 per cent less than halogen lamps. A wide range of LED lighting products, with various colour temperatures and levels of brightness, is now available on the market. And yet many consumers are still using old-style incandescent light bulbs.

The EU Ecodesign Directive

The European Union’s Ecodesign Directive introduced more stringent efficiency criteria for a range of energy-relevant products and appliances. Since the adoption of the Directive back in 2009, incandescent light bulbs and other energy-intensive lighting products have gradually been withdrawn from the EU market. As of 1 September 2018, halogen lamps – with very few exceptions – will no longer be sold in the European Union, although suppliers will be allowed to clear their existing stock.

Introduced to replace conventional incandescent light bulbs, energy-saving light bulbs initially encountered a great deal of prejudice among consumers. One criticism was that the light they produced was too cold or not bright enough; another was that they contained mercury, even though the quantities were so small that the risk to health was minimal. LED lights were already available on the market by then, but were prohibitively expensive. Even today, their purchase costs are higher, although the initial outlay is quickly recouped through reduced electricity bills.

LED – efficient, long-lasting, diverse

Modern LED lights cut energy consumption – indeed, their energy efficiency alone makes them an attractive option, since they use just 20 per cent of the energy of a conventional light bulb. But that’s not all: LED bulbs also have a very long lifetime. A high-quality LED bulb can last up to 25 years with usage of around three hours a day. With a wide range of products now available on the market, an LED solution is available to fit every type of lamp.

Modern LED bulbs provide illumination in a variety of light colours and levels of brightness. The warm white light from a 2700 Kelvin LED light creates the same cosy ambience as an old-style incandescent bulb. The colour of light, also known as the colour temperature, is measured in units known as Kelvins and can range from warm white through natural to daylight white. Brightness is determined by the luminous flux, stated in lumens: the higher the figure, the brighter the lamp.

Although LED light bulbs are now much more affordable, not enough households are using energy-efficient lighting even now. And yet replacing one 60-watt incandescent light bulb with an LED product saves 16 euros a year. Replacing a 45-watt halogen bulb yields a saving of 11 euros. In a bid to improve uptake of LEDs, the Oeko-Institut therefore launched the alles LeuchtED campaign (in German language) in cooperation with EcoTopTen and other partners in 2017.

Energy-saving project: The LightenED Up campaign – Practical demonstrations of energy-efficient lighting

The LightenED Up campaign was delivered by the Oeko-Institut and EcoTopTen in cooperation with energy suppliers and various other partners. It was funded by the German Environment Ministry’s National Climate Initiative (NKI).

The campaign aimed to identify barriers preventing consumers from using LED lighting products. It started with a practical demonstration, whose purpose was to help selected households make the switch to LED. Based on the lessons learned, a set of practical aids was then developed to create broad public awareness of energy-efficient lighting and encourage people to try the products out at home.

A video, online information and a competition

The Oeko-Institut and EcoTopTen produced information in various formats so as to reach as many consumers as possible. For example, an animated explainer video accompanies Ralf, the main character, as he sets about the task of choosing energy-efficient lighting for his home. The story explains which product features he needs to look out for and how much money he can save.

Video: The easy transition to LED lighting (in German language)

The practical demonstrations revealed that one of the barriers preventing people from switching to LED lighting is that so many different types of lamp sockets exist. Some consumers were overwhelmed by the task of choosing the right number of lumens and colour temperature. Many were unsure how to dispose of discarded light bulbs. The higher purchase costs were also a major factor initially deterring some people from buying LED lighting products.

In the information material, the EcoTopTen researchers therefore look at all the potential barriers. They explain which bulb fits which socket, and which colour temperatures and levels of brightness are suitable for which settings. Consumers can also find plenty of handy hints and information on topics such as light bulb disposal and payback periods.

LightenED Up – publications

The website offers a range of information: a comprehensive practical guide to LEDs, a shorter factsheet for people who are pressed for time, photo-stories and a glossary. In autumn 2017, a nationwide competition was launched to raise awareness of LEDs, with total prize money of 3000 euros for entrants who showed real commitment to energy-saving lighting.