Choose the Right Energy Efficient Light Bulbs With This 4-Step Guide

If you are previously unaware, here’s a public service announcement by the Kaodim team: Malaysia is on its way to phasing out the sale of traditional incandescent lightbulbs. For good reasons too as the filament in incandescent bulbs need to be heated to a very high temperature to give off light in order to be functional. This is the main cause for its inefficiency and your very high electricity bill.

There are several types of energy saving lightbulbs. Most commonly used in households are CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps), LED (Light Emitting Diodes) and halogens. With so many brands, shapes and sizes available in stores, where do you start?

Without the need to be an Einstein in watts and voltages, the guide below serves to help you choose energy efficient light bulb that fit your lighting needs at home:

1. Choose a light bulb with the right fitting

Ever bought a bayonet bulb, thinking that’s the one, only to go home and find out that you needed a screw type bulb? Screws and bayonets are common fittings, but there are also many other types. The best thing to do is to bring your old light bulb to the store, or write down the fitting reference on the box. Save yourself an unnecessary trip back to the store!


2. Decide on your budget

Decide how much you are willing to pay – LEDs are the most expensive to buy, followed by CFL and Halogen.

Consumers often make the mistake by calculating their cost based on the purchase price of the bulb alone. The accurate method is to calculate how much each bulb costs to run in the long term.

  • LED

These are the most energy efficient ones. They are usually more expensive to buy but they have a longer lifespan and use almost 90% less energy than traditional incandescent. In the long run, they are the most economical – they recover their initial cost quicker, last longer, and reduce your electricity bill significantly.

  • CFL

CFLs are cheap and widely available in a variety of sizes and outputs. The curlicue bulbs do take their time to light up, but over the years there have been significant improvements and the time has been reduced.

CLFs are four times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and quickly pay for themselves in energy savings. However, the light that these bulbs emit may not be everyone’s cup of tea and most CFLs do not work well with dimmers.

  • Halogen

Halogens use a tungsten filament similar to traditional incandescent light and produce almost the same light colour and quality. The only difference is that it’s surrounded with halogen gas, which needs less electricity for the same brightness.

Although they are one of the cheapest on the shelves, halogens are also significantly more expensive to run compared to other energy savers and have a shorter lifespan.


 3. Choosing Brightness & Colour

Okay, let’s break down what’s on the box:

  • Brightness

Brightness is measured in watts or lumen output. With incandescent bulbs, brightness is measured in watts — the measure of power needed to light up the bulb. Since energy saving bulbs use a lot less power to begin with, watts is used less and lumen is a better measurement of brightness.

Higher lumen = brighter bulb

Values typically start from 200 and go all the way up to the thousands.

For example, 400 lumens would suit a bed-sized table lamp. For a regular sized living room, you might need between 1,500-3,000 lumens in total (from more than one bulb).

  • Colour

Colour is measured in Kelvin (K), which is a measure of temperature. But not to worry, manufacturers these days will give a colour indication on the boxes. Examples include white ‘cool daylight’ or yellow ‘candlelight’.

Bulbs that measure around 1,500K on one end of the spectrum emit yellowish light. As the temperature increases, the colour will change towards a brighter white colour, normally at 5,000K and above.

The right colour will determine your mood and how your room will look like, so choose wisely.

4. Find the best shape

This is the easy part and mostly comes down to your personal preference. Again, there are many different shapes and sizes to consider.

Each shape produces a different spread and angle of light. A regular globe-shaped bulb spreads its light at 360 degrees, and a spotlight has a narrow beam.

Think also about how the bulb will look like when it’s switched on and off, and whether they look sensible in their lighting fixture. (You do not want a large stick shape bulb poking out of your bedside lamp)


You’re now armed and ready to go into the shop! There are other types of energy efficient solutions which you can install in your home and office. If you’re currently doing a house renovation or electrical repairs, why not find out how you can install one?

For more help, get professional advice from our electricians and contractors on