Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Good to hear a European Commissioner hitting back hard against those in Germany, the UK and elsewhere who have discovered a great love for the incandescent light bulb, the sale of which is now being phased out.

"Romantic nonsense," Gunther Verheugen told the Parliament's environment committee on Tuesday (1 Sept).

Mindful of how much energy the old bulbs waste, the Enterprise Commissioner and friend of industry told MEPs: "we cannot keep saying that we need change if we then resist all change."

"I am not going to be swayed by 'bulb hysteria'."

Good stuff. Let's hear the same from the Prime Ministers (all 27 of them) who backed the ban.


David (dsc73277) said...

If even something as small as changing lightbulbs is resisted as strongly as the British press would suggest, then I think we really are in trouble. Fortunately, I suspect people will come round. It often seems to be the case that if you tell people they are going to lose something, even something they do not like, then they suddenly develop a desperate desire to keep it. Perhaps that is just human nature.

Rebutting the commonly held belief that energy saving lightbulbs are never very bright would seem to be a good idea. I have an excellent "biobulb" in my desk lamp. It wasn't cheap (something like £15 I think) but it will supposedly last 10,000 hours and more closely replicates natural day light than any incandescent bulb ever did. I'm told it is even supposed to help me feel more positive. Daily Mail take note: "energy saving bulbs make you feel better".

Panta Rei said...

Unlike many people against the ban,
I agree with the need to do something about emissions
(for all they contain, whatever about CO2)

But banning light bulbs is in my view not the way forward,
and I think people who are less in agreement with
the background arguments will just be turned off from cooperating in more important environmental measures.

Europeans (like Americans) choose to buy ordinary light bulbs around 9 times out of 10 (European 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 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:
about CFL brightness, lifespan, power factor, lifecycle, heat benefit of ordinary bulbs in temperate climates, and other referenced research

Brief examples
Effect on Electricity Bills

If energy use does indeed fall with light bulb and other proposed efficiency bans,
electricity companies make less money to cover all their fixed overheads (regardless of using less fuel),
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...
- in which case money savings affected

Since energy efficiency in effect means cheaper energy,
people simply leave appliances on more than before This has actually been shown by Scottish and Cambridge research, as linked on the website
(in the case of CFLs they're supposed to be left on more anyway, to avoid cutting down on their lifespan)
- in which case energy savings affected

The fact that they are not as bright as stated is another reason against supposed savings
See comparison test

Also, since lifespan is lab tested in 3 hour cycles, any increased on-off switching reduces it, as does (as said) leaving the lights on to combat it.

CFLs typically have a "power factor" of 0.5
Power companies therefore typically need to generate more than twice as as much power
than what your electricity meter - or CFL rating - shows, taking everything into consideration.
Of course you end up having to pay for this anyway, in electricity charges being higher than they otherwise would have been.
Without going into technicalities, this has to do with current and voltage phase differences set up when CFLs are used.
There is nothing new or strange about this
Industries are today penalized if they present such a work load to the power station.

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):

Panta Rei said...

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 the consumption would be fairer and 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/eurostax 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...