Green View – Shedding some light on latest advances

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The world of artificial light is ever changing. Given how far we have travelled since we first harnessed the burning branch to illuminate our world you would have thought it would be a simple matter of flicking a switch and letting it shine.

The problem is that the journey towards efficient lighting means that inevitably we are always in transition. The incandescent bulb was invented over 200 years ago and has served us well. Its replacement, the bendy-shaped compact fluorescent, is loved and hated in equal measure. Yet it has shone for a short time before the next generation of technology, the LED or light emitting diode, has come on the scene. LED technology has moved rapidly into both the commercial and domestic lighting market in the last five years or so. Some of you may not be switched on to it yet but if want to cut your energy consumption and save money, LED is the way forward.

You may be used to LEDs in your digital clock or Christmas tree decorations. LED is generally the most efficient system of artificial light on the market using 90% less than its incandescent cousin. They have other advantages including long life and quick starting, which was a problem with compact fluorescents. They give out very little heat and the latest types have a range of styles, wattages and what’s called colour temperatures – the character of the light can range from the cold, white light through to the warm glow.

Admittedly, the market is still emerging and you need to make some informed choices about what type and where you use them, but genuine cost savings can be made. In the last two years alone, I have seen the price of the typical LED spot tumble from over £20 per bulb to less than a tenner.

Now, I can hear you say, ‘how much? I could buy an incandescent bulb for less than 50p, and even one of those compact fluorescents for a couple of quid, why would I want to spend five times that much?’.

Cutting your consumption to a tenth of conventional lighting in areas where you need it for several hours a day will pay back within a year or two. And if you are a small business in West Suffolk, you can even apply for a Greener Business Grant to help you to upgrade. So, get switched on to LED.

For more information

Eligible businesses based in West Suffolk can apply for up to £1,000 to fund capital works designed to improve their business environmental performance , including energy saving lighting. For more details visit www.greensuffolk.org/at-work/funding/ or call 01284 757622.

-- Peter Gudde is environmental management officer for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, where he was worked since 1993.