Energy Efficient Lightbulbs: The Greenie's Have Gone Too Far
What is an energy efficient light bulb?
What is an energy efficient light bulb? And far more importantly, why should I care? I went to the shop the other day to buy a replacement bulb for one that had blown but I couldn't find a "normal" i.e. incandescent light bulb. Instead all I could find in several shops were "energy efficient compact fluorescent light" aka the CFL or "energy efficient LED bulbs".
Now that's not what I wanted - a wanted a A$0.50c 60W light bulb to go into our WC. I didn't want anything fancy, nor did I want anything pretty, I just wanted a cheap light bulb. There was no point buying a long-life bulb because that particularly light fitting is faulty and blows bulbs quite frequently and also we will leave the rental apartment in a few months so I didn't really want to save the future tenant money.
But I couldn't find any - where on earth had the normal old Edison light bulb gone - it had been around for over 100 years why suddenly couldn't I buy one?
Australia Bans Normal Light Bulbs
Yes you read that right, the Australian government back in 2007 decided to lead the world on something and decided to ban incandescent light bulbs by 2010. And now it looks like most of the supermarket chains have got rid of them. (By the way if you are in Australia you may want to check out IGA - they had a lot of proper lights bulbs and are selling them off real cheap).
Even the green bastion of treehuggers thought the Australian move was a bit radical at the time, and I can tell you I am furious! Because unbelievably for the Australian governent -they are actually implementing something they promised!
The Argument For Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
Apparently it will save the planet from global warming blah blah - but that's a whole other hub. According to wikipedia "it is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions will be cut by 800,000 tonnes (Australia's current emission total is 564.7 million tonnes), a saving of approximately 0.14%"
Wouldn't it work just as well as we turned off the odd light? Or maybe even, and this is radical, built houses which didn't need to have air-conditioning running half the year?
The Argument Against Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
I can't quite believe that this one has stuck through - in 2007,when the decision was made, we had a boom - now we have a recession and suddenly I am paying A$8 for a light bulb that used to cost A$0.50c - that's little bit of a price hike.
Oh apparently it will save me a significant percentage of my power bill. I don't think so - my total power bill is A$40/month - I suspect about A$2 of that is lighting - the rest is hot water, laptops, TV, fridge and stove! Sure your figures may be higher if you have 5 bedroom mansion with ducted aircon - but I still think you'd save more power by turning off the aircon than the lights!
So on my A$40/month power bill I might save 50c - there are say 10 light bulbs in the house- replacing them all would cost around A$80 - so the payback period is 160 months, or 13 years - seriously you have to be kidding me! Maybe I should just turn off a few lights in rooms I'm not using - wouldn't that work better - at no upfront conversion cost? Except that wouldn't work because if you turn off CFL's within 5 minutes of turning them on e.g. in a cupboard, WC or similar, you reduce their life expectancy back down to that of incandescent bulbs!
But CFL's Last Longer
The hype is that CFLs, LED's and other energy efficient light bulbs last longer. Well frankly I don't give a damme to paraphrase Rhett! I rent! I don't care to save the next tenant money - or perhaps I should take the lightbulbs with me to the next place? Even if I owned the house, the average Australian moves houses every five or so years - an energy efficient CFL lightbulb is supposed to last 7 - again do we take the light bulbs with us?
Compact Fluorescent Lights Produce Horrible Light
My biggest problem is quite simple CFL's give horrible light. I have them in the lounge and its like being in a commercial office. The "F" stands for fluorescent - most of us choose not to have fluorescent lighting at home because its harsh and flat and plain ugly.
You can get LED efficient bulbs too - but again LED's are totally different light - fantastic for task lighting above the kitchen bench or in a study light, but you need an awful lot of them to light a house - and the energy efficient version take about a minute to light up - seriously dangerous
Incandescent Bulbs To Be Banned in Your Country?
Well New Zealand was going to ban incandescent bulbs, but that decision was reversed with a change of government last year. California looks set to follow Australia and Europe too seem keen on CFL's
What do you think - try the poll and drop a comment below!