As old-fashioned light bulbs are finally phased out, the sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust together with independent consumer research charity, Ricability (Research Institute for Consumer Affairs), have published an essential guide to buying energy saving light bulbs.

Getting the right lighting is crucial for older people and especially those with some level of sight loss. The new guide, Choosing Energy Saving Light Bulbs for Your Home, provides what everyone needs to know about buying energy saving bulbs.

It dispels some common myths and shows that the new bulbs can be just as bright, effective and easily controlled as the old ones.

Says Sarah Buchanan, Research Director, Thomas Pocklington Trust:

“Older people and people with sight loss don’t need to worry about switching to energy saving light bulbs.

Our new guide explains which bulbs to buy for different areas in the home, for different levels of lighting and for a quick delivery of the light that’s needed.

We know from research that having the right lighting dramatically improves the lives of people with sight loss.  This new guide will help them achieve it.”

This month (September) the traditional, incandescent light bulbs will be withdrawn from sale and everyone will have to buy energy saving light bulbs, but many people have been deterred from changing to the new bulbs as early versions were slow to warm up and gave off a blue/white light that people didn’t like.

Now the new guide shows that a bigger, better range is available.  By explaining which bulb works best for specific needs the guide dispels myths and demystifies the choice of which bulb to buy.

Appearance:  New energy saving bulbs provide the same yellow light as the old-fashioned bulbs and they don’t flicker.

Fittings: Energy savers come in bayonet and screw fitting, just like the old bulbs.

Start-up:  Halogen and LED (light emitting diode) lights come on immediately as soon as switched on and new “quick start” compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs come on in less than 30 seconds.

Flexibility:  Halogen bulbs are best for using with dimmer switches. Both halogen and LED bulbs can be used with timers or movement sensors and these are also best for use in cold areas such as pantries and garages.

Cost:  Although new bulbs seem expensive, they save money in the long run.  Some can last for 10 years or more and they cut electricity bills. One £5 CFL bulb, for example, should pay for itself in just one year, says the guide, saving up to 80% of energy compared to a traditional bulb.

The guide also explains the new word to look for on packaging – lumens. This denotes the brightness of the bulb and is more important to look for than the old measurement of wattage.

Energy saving bulbs will have a lower wattage than people are used to (ie. they use less energy) but the brightness (ie. lumens) is higher. The guide recommends the ideal lumens for specific areas of the home; at least 1000 on the stairs for example, but only up to 250 when fitted under kitchen cabinets.

The consumer body Which? has also contributed to the guide, recommending the Best-Buys in energy saving light bulbs for brightness and speed of start-up.

The guide – Choosing Energy Saving Light Bulbs For Your Home – is available online at www.ricability.org.uk and can be downloaded as a PDF.

It is also available as a print booklet and as an audio-CD or in Braille.