Is it cheaper to keep lights on all day – or only turn on when needed?

Is there any merit in the myth that leaving your lights on is cheaper than switching on and off? (Picture: Getty)

As the cost of living crisis tightens the budgets for households across the UK moving into Christmas, people cannot be blamed for looking to save wherever they can.

We’ve looked at whether it’s cheaper to keep your heating on all day and whether it’s cheaper to use gas or electric to cook, but what about another urban myth that it can cost you more switching your lights on and off, opposed to just keeping some on?

Here’s what you need to know…

Can you save money by keeping your lights on all day?

In short, no. This is an urban myth that has no basis in fact.

While some might believe that the act of switching your lights on and off actually requires more energy than keeping them on, the Energy Saving Trust are quick to debunk this to

A spokesperson for the trust explained: ‘Turn your lights off when you’re not using them or when you leave a room. This will save you around £25 (£12 in NI)* a year on your annual energy bills.’

‘Replacing all the lights in your home with LED bulbs could help you save even more.’

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*England, Scotland and Wales savings are for a typical three-bedroom, gas-heated home using a gas price of 10.3p/kWh and electricity price of 34.0p/kWh (based on Energy Price Guarantee October 2022).

Northern Ireland prices for gas and electricity are based on an average of supplier tariffs as of October 2022, discounted further according to the Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme.

The Energy Saving Trust also explain the differences in LED bulbs and other types.

There are two main types of energy-efficient light bulbs available: compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs).

LED bulbs are much more energy efficient (Picture: Getty)

LEDs are the most common and adaptable light fitting, and are suitable for replacing dimmable lights and spotlights. LEDs are also more energy-efficient than CFLs.

The only thing to bear in mind is the cost of buying LEDs. They may cost a little more initially – with prices ranging from £6.96 for a bulb on Amazon to £20.19 for a pack of six from Waitrose – but the payback is fast.

As per the Renewable Energy Hub, an incandescent light bulb will only last about 1,200 hours before it needs to be replaced. If you compare this to the average lifetime of an LED bulb of 60,000, you will soon make back that money.

Tips for saving money on your lights

As well as only turning on when necessary and considering LED bulbs, there are other things you can do to help manage your electric bill when it comes to lighting.

  • Use sensors or timers on external lights, so they are only on when they need to be
  • Consider transparent shades or fittings, as a dark lampshade can absorb some of the light a bulb emits
  • Ensure that you regularly clean any lamp shades or fittings to increase the impact of the light.

MORE : Do you have to pay energy bills even if you don’t use gas or electricity?

MORE : Is it cheaper to buy an electric heater rather than put the heating on?

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