B&Q Online: From Kitchens & Bathrooms to Sheds & Paving; plus planning tools

Ask an expert

What types of energy saving bulb are available?

Our experts, BioRegional's Tom Hill and B&Q's Stef Neron, have answered some of your most common queries about energy saving light bulbs. What they don't know about bulbs really isn't worth knowing.

Should I wait until my old bulbs blow before switching?

Stef says: We recommend changing traditional bulbs as soon as you can. Once you install an energy saving light bulb you'll immediately start saving money, electricity and CO2. Once changed, your energy efficient bulb will last around 10 times longer than your old one.

Do energy saving light bulbs take a while to warm up?

Stef says: In the past you used to be half way up the stairs before an energy saving bulb could shed any light on the situation. The performance of CFLs has improved massively in the last few years, it takes only a matter of seconds before the bulb is glowing as bright as the old traditional one. LED energy saving light bulbs, however, reach full brightness almost immediately.

Can I use a dimmer switch?

Stef says: Yes. As more people are opting for dimmer switches, a growing number of bulbs are being developed to be used with them. B&Q now sells two GLS (traditional light bulb shaped) dimmable energy saving light bulbs, one with a bayonet cap and one with an E27 screw fitting.

Can I use a 13W energy saving light bulb that's equivalent to an old 60W bulb in a lampshade that has a sticker saying "max 40W"?

Stef says: Yes, as long as you stick with the wattage guidelines you'll be fine so using a 13W bulb in a light fitting with a 40W max is okay. In fact, it's a really clever way of getting the most light out of the fitting!

How do I dispose of energy saving light bulbs safely?

Tom says: Bulbs are delicate things and care should be taken when removing it from its packaging, installing it or replacing it. Always screw and unscrew the bulb by its base and never forcefully twist the efficient bulb into a light socket by its tubes.

Energy efficient bulbs are perfectly safe to use in your home but CFL light bulbs do contain mercury. No mercury is released when these bulbs are in use and they pose no danger when used properly. If you accidentally break one take a few simple steps to ensure your safety. Open as many windows as possible and leave the room for at least 15 minutes. When you clean up the mess, use rubber gloves and put all the bits in a plastic bag, don't use a vacuum cleaner. When that's done wipe the area where the bulb broke with a damp cloth and put it in the bag with all the bits. Take the contents to your local household recycling centre who will be able to safely dispose of the broken bulb for you.

What about migraines?

Stef says: There were a limited number of media reports in the past by people who suffer from reactions to certain types of energy efficient bulb and these were almost certainly triggered by old technology which operated on a low frequency of 60 cycles per second. This is not the case with new energy efficient bulb technology, which now operates on a high frequency, refreshing at between 10,000 and 40,000 cycles per second, far too fast for the human eye or brain to detect4.

Headaches are often a result of eyestrain from concentrating on something like a TV, book or computer when there isn't enough light. When you replace your traditional incandescent bulbs make sure you pick a replacement that provides the amount of light you actually need. If you are unsure why not take your traditional bulb in and ask for help in store?

Does it take more energy to produce an energy saving light bulb?

Tom says: Energy saving bulbs are more difficult to manufacture than the old traditional incandescent bulbs and they need more materials. Over the lifetime of the bulb though, the energy saved whilst it's being used, far outweighs the extra energy required to produce an energy saving bulb.

Are traditional light bulbs being phased out?

Stef says: Yes, traditional inefficient light bulbs are being gradually phased out over the next couple of years. Many stores, including B&Q, have already stopped selling traditional GLS incandescent light bulbs over 75W. After January 2010, B&Q will stop selling traditional GLS incandescent 60W light bulbs. All remaining 40W and 25W A-shape GLS bulbs (traditional light bulb shaped) as well as 60W incandescent candles and golf balls will be phased out by 2011. Don't panic though, B&Q has, doubled its range of energy efficient alternatives so no matter what shape, size, style, fitting or wattage – we'll have the bulb you need.