Energy Efficient Home Lighting | Click Energy

Blog Post Tuesday 10 September 2019

Know Your Bulb: The Difference Between Halogen, Incandescent, LED and CFL

Know Your Bulb: The Difference Between Halogen, Incandescent, LED and CFL

It might not be something most people give much thought to, but knowing the differences between light bulbs can slash your power bill and help your household become more energy-efficient. With the phase-out of traditional incandescent light bulbs, there has been a huge influx of alternative light bulb types and styles. Find out the pros and cons of the different types of lighting available, as well as tips on how to buy the best bulb to save energy.

Comparing halogens, LEDs and incandescent bulbs

Incandescent bulbs are the classic bulbs found in most households. They are cheap to produce and to buy, making them a popular choice. However, since they aren’t as energy-efficient given their shorter lifespans, they are slowly becoming replaced with more efficient bulbs, such as halogens and LEDs.

Halogen bulbs look the most similar to incandescent, with that same classic light bulb shape we’ve become accustomed to in cartoons and car headlights. The difference is that halogen light bulbs are a little more energy-efficient and can also be dimmed. LED bulbs, on the other hand, are long-lasting and extremely energy-efficient. The only downside is that they provide only directional light and not diffused light as halogens and incandescent do. So, how do you choose the right bulb for your home? Let’s take a look at the different light bulbs and their features.

Types of light bulbs


Halogen bulbs are a type of incandescent light bulb, with similar features and diffusion of light. They are about 30% more efficient than the old-style incandescent bulbs and are longer-lasting, making them a slightly better choice. The way halogens work means that they produce more light while using less electricity. This means you can have the same light output as a traditional incandescent bulb while using less energy.

Despite the efficiency of a halogen light bulb, they still aren’t as efficient as an LED or CFL bulb. They do however provide a more cost-effective option in the short-term and are ideal as low voltage downlights or in areas when the light fitting is likely to be hot for long periods. A typical halogen light uses about 35W to 50W and give the closest approximation to natural daylight or ‘white light’.


The incandescent bulb is the most traditional and common light bulb used in households since they are one of the oldest and cheapest to buy. This bulb has a warm, comforting light and is dimmable, making them appealing to most. However, a phase-out was initiated in 2009, meaning most incandescent lights are unavailable in Australia with only a small number available for heat lamps, oven lights and decorative lamps. Incandescent light bulbs are the least energy-efficient, with most of its electrical energy converted into heat rather than light. A 60W incandescent bulb only puts out as much light as an 8W LED bulb.


LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are a long-lasting and extremely energy-efficient light bulb. However, because they only provide direct light and not diffused light, they are often only used as a common component of circuitry in things like TVs, traffic lights, headlights, and smartphone camera flashes. LEDs have an extraordinary lifespan that can last decades, and unlike the incandescent light, once it reaches its end of lifespan, it slowly fades out as opposed to burning out and leaving you with no light.

LEDs also last up to 10 times longer than halogens and only use 25% of the energy to generate the same level of lighting. LEDs are a great option for most lighting situations, however, they do cost more and some ‘smart’ LED lighting technology can actually end up being inefficient - especially when left on standby mode. It typically costs about $5 to run a quality LED light per year in a high traffic area of your home.


CFLs or ‘compact fluorescent light bulbs’ consume only a quarter of the energy that incandescent bulbs use, and like LEDs, they also last 10 times longer. CFLs are quiet to run, and have warmer, colour-corrected tones compared to old-style fluorescent lights. If you replace your whole households halogen lights with CFL lights, you could save up to $208 a year. CFLs are a popular choice for households since they have the convenience of being direct replacements for halogen and incandescent bulbs and are almost as efficient as LEDs. They’re also cheaper to purchase than LEDs, but only last about half as long.

Choosing the right light bulb

When it comes to choosing the most cost-effective bulb for your home, there are a few factors to consider. These include:

  • Wattage, brightness and colour: Generally, the higher the wattage the brighter. While we used to purchase traditional incandescent lights based on their wattage, nowadays with energy-efficient bulbs, the lumens are the better way to choose what light to use. Lumens give a measure of the amount of light produced by a light bulb. The traditional incandescent bulb produced 700 lumens and 60W of power, whereas the new LED bulbs use only 10W. Another factor to consider when choosing a bulb is the type of ambience or mood of the lighting that you want in your room.
  • Cost and lifespan: While LEDs and CFLs seem expensive, they’re actually the most cost-effective in the long run. In fact, the running costs of both LEDs and CFLs are far cheaper than halogens and fluorescent bulbs, despite the latter costing far less to purchase.
  • Shape and light fluorescent fittings: LEDs are usually bulb-shaped, CFLs can be found in tubular, spiral or bulb forms, halogens come in all the classic bulb shapes, and fluorescent light bulbs come in all forms of shapes. Choosing the shape is important since it will determine the direction of light emitted. Also, different bulbs require different fittings, with most needing either a bayonet cap or Edison screw mount. Depending on your existing fittings, you may need to choose a bulb that fits these existing mounds.

Cost-effective lighting of your home

Make your lighting, even‌ ‌more, cost effective and energy efficient with an amazing electricity plan to back it up. For most of us, the electricity bill is likely to be one of the biggest outgoings, so it’s important to find an electricity retailer who can give you the best price. Contact us at Click Energy today for a range of plan options and advice to keep your energy costs down.