Tuesday, September 01, 2009


By Anna Browning BBC News

It is light, bright and has been around for 120 years. But from Tuesday the 100 watt bulb bows out from Britain.
Under new EU rules the manufacture and import of 100 watt bulbs and all frosted bulbs will be banned in favour of the energy-saving variety.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, compact fluorescent lamps (energy-saving bulbs) use 80% less electricity than standard bulbs.
They could also save the average household £590 in energy over their lifetime of between eight and 10 years, and if all traditional bulbs were replaced, the carbon saving would be the equivalent of taking 70,000 cars off the road.
Good reasons. But while cutting carbon and cheaper bills might entice many, others are less happy.
Commonplace complaints about the new bulbs include they take too long to warm up, they are ugly, they give off poor light and they contain mercury - making them potentially hazardous and hard to get rid of.


Any bulb with frosted, opal, pearl or other opaque finish - unless category A energy savers - will be banned from 1 September 2009

All clear bulbs must be energy rating category E or better from 1 September 2009
100W bulbs and above must be at least category C from 1 September 2009
75W bulbs and above must be category C or better from 1 September 2010
60W bulbs and above must be at least category C from 1 September 2011
All clear bulbs must be at least category C from 1 September 2012

And according to campaigners, energy-saving bulbs can trigger migraines, exacerbate skin conditions and lead to other serious health problems.
When many retailers, including most supermarkets, announced they were signing up to a voluntary scheme to phase out traditional incandescent bulbs in January - ahead of the September deadline - there was wide-scale panic buying.
Supermarkets reported a massive run on the traditional type, while the Daily Mail gave away 25,000 incandescent light bulbs in "outrage at further European intervention in British affairs".
One opponent, Glynn Hughes, from Preston, decided he couldn't face life without 100 watts.
"I've bought a 15-year supply of the old-fashioned, incandescent light bulbs," he told the BBC.
"I reckon in 15 years people will have worked out that these things aren't good for you and we'll be able to buy as many as we want of the old ones."
It is, he believes, a question of human rights.
"It's totally unfair. As human beings we are entitled to choose whether we believe the, some might say rumours, of the danger of low-energy light bulbs or whether we ignore it.
"At the moment we've got the choice. As of 1 September, we've no choice."

Health concerns

For some, the ruling could have serious side effects.
David Price, of Spectrum, an alliance of charities working with people with light-sensitive health conditions, says the government is "disregarding" public concerns.
"Health is important and it should come over anything else, but they're not looking after ours," he said.
The new low-energy bulbs, particularly the ones in coils or rings, trigger people's migraines
Lee TomkinsMigraine Action
Lee Tomkins, director of Migraine Action, is urging sufferers to stockpile the old-fashioned bulbs before retailers run out, while the the Royal National Institute of Blind People suggests using tungsten halogen bulbs instead of energy-saving bulbs in hallways and stairs.
However, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs denies they are a risk, saying the new bulbs are now "flicker free".
"CFL bulbs used to operate at mains frequency (50Hz) they are now designed to operate at 1,000 times that frequency," a spokesman said.
Claims of poor lighting were also untrue, he said.
"The light is bright and clear and tests conducted by the Energy Saving Trust suggest that the majority of people cannot tell the difference between the light of a new CFL and an incandescent bulb."
He also said EU health experts had concluded that there was not enough evidence to suggest the modern lamps could aggravate epilepsy or migraines.
Even so, says Lee Tomkins: "Be sensible and use the old incandescent bulbs where you can.
"The new low-energy bulbs, particularly the ones in coils or rings, trigger people's migraines."
She added that the charity was in talks with light bulb manufacturers who had been "fantastic" and trials were planned later this year to try to see "if any of the new light bulbs could be adapted to be suitable".
Meanwhile, shopkeepers are reporting many are indeed stockpiling 100 watt bulbs, although a quick search of the internet shows there are still plenty for sale.
Lesley Urrutia, of Pilton Electrical in Cardiff, said customers - many elderly - appeared to be panic buying.
"Normally I might sell 10 - but I'm selling more than 80 a day," she said. "It's good for business but there is no need for people to panic."



Blogger Panta Rei said...

Hardly surprising about the hoarding...

Europeans, like Americans, choose to buy ordinary light bulbs around 9 times out of 10 (EU Commission and light industry data 2007-8)
Banning what people want gives the supposed savings - no point in banning an impopular product!

If new LED lights - or improved CFLs etc - are good,
people will buy them - no need to ban ordinary light bulbs (little point).
If they are not good, people will not buy them - no need to ban ordinary light bulbs (no point).
The arrival of the transistor didn’t mean that more energy using radio valves/tubes were banned… they were bought less anyway.

The need to save energy?
Advice is good and welcome, but bans are another matter...
people -not politicians – pay for energy and how they wish to use it.
There is no energy shortage - on the contrary, more and more renewable sources are being developed -
and if there was an energy shortage, the price rise would lead to more demand for efficient products – no need to legislate for it.

Supposed savings don’t hold up anyway for many reasons:
http://www.ceolas.net/#li13x onwards
about brightness, lifespan, power factor, lifecycle, heat effect of ordinary bulbs, and other referenced research

Effect on Electricity Bills
If energy use does indeed fall with light bulb and other proposed efficiency bans,
electricity companies make less money,
and they’ll simply push up the electricity bills to compensate
(especially since power companies often have their own grids with little supply competition)
Energy regulators can hardly deny any such cost covering exercise...

Does a light bulb give out any gases?
Power stations might not either:
Why should emission-free households be denied the use of lighting they obviously want to use?
Low emission households already dominate some regions, and will increase everywhere, since emissions will be reduced anyway through the planned use of coal/gas processing technology and/or energy substitution.

Direct ways to deal with emissions (for all else they contain too, whatever about CO2):

The Taxation alternative
A ban on light bulbs is extraordinary, in being on a product safe to use.
We are not talking about banning lead paint here.
This is simply a ban to reduce electricity consumption.

Even for those who remain pro-ban, taxation to reduce consumption (and therefore energy use and emissions) would make more sense, also since governments can use the income to reduce emissions (home insulation schemes, renewable projects etc) more than any remaining product use causes such problems.
A few pounds/euros/dollars tax that reduces the current sales (EU like the USA 2 billion sales per annum, UK 250-300 million pa)
raises future billions, and would retain consumer choice.
It could also be revenue neutral, lowering any sales tax on efficient products.
When sufficent low emission electricity delivery is in place, the ban can be lifted

Taxation is itself unjustified, it is simply a better alternative for all concerned than bans.

Of course an EU ban is underway, but in phases, supposedly with reviews in a couple of years time...
maybe the debate in USA and Canada will be affected by the protests?

11:20 pm  

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