RIP the lightbulb. All for your own good.

5 November 2012

lightbulbDid you know the traditional lightbulb is dead? As of 1 September, the EU banned manufacture and import of ordinary incandescent bulbs for domestic use for ALL bulbs (previously it was only high-wattage ones that were persona non grata). Of course, this is all in the name of energy and money saving, but are the EU actually doing us any good?

No-one (go on- prove me wrong in the comments) is arguing that the newer style bulbs are more energy-efficient, but given that DECC estimates suggest only 26% of lighting is domestic (as opposed to commercial or street lighting), is coercing poor little householders into buying new bulbs really the best way to go?

And what about saving money? The popular compact fluorescent bulbs use about 80% less energy, but given the average person’s bill for lighting is around £77, surely it would cost more to replace all incandescent bulbs with energy-savers anyway?

At first, this is true, and the energy savings in the first year are likely to be lower than the additional cost of replacing the bulbs, even despite the fact that the energy-saving bulbs have come down in price over the past few years. But the real advantage is that you can then forget about your lightbulbs for years, as the energy-saving ones last between 8 and 15 times as long.

There are also new LED energy saving bulbs on the market. More expensive than the fluorescent ones, they are even more energy efficient and long-lasting. While replacing one bulb might save you £4 a year in energy costs, over its lifetime, the saving would be a massive £70. This means you could actually die before you need to replace the bulb.

And some reports suggest that domestic lighting use is way behind commercial and governmental use. Many commercial businesses, with much larger lighting bills, have already switched and are now reaping the financial rewards, and even some councils are replacing their standard street lighting with fancy new LED lights.

So is this EU meddling, or, like a beneficient parent, are the Eurocrats just trying to help us for our own good? Are you rushing out to buy up all remaining stock of traditional bulbs at your local lightbulb retailer? With Christmas rushing worryingly near, does this mean the death of the fairy light?


  • whatsit t.
    26% is still a pretty large amount, just because the other 74% is either businesses and the gov doesn't mean it should be scoffed at. I'm sure they all have their targets too and being regulated in one way or another, I'm sure they're being forced to change certain ways. But as individual members of society, we can't be regulated so the only way to force it is to stop the sale of the OAP Bulb.
  • Boring B.
    Energy saving light bulbs are crap. The money you may save in using them is not worth it. You may as well just not have any lighting in your house if you want to be green. Actually, why don't you just throw yourself into the sea without telling anybody and drown - that must be the greenest/cheapest existence? LED bulbs are worse. Too much flicker!
  • Stevie
    Of course you can still buy 'rough service' bulbs which do exactly the same job as the old bulbs!
  • Jack T.
    "But the real advantage is that you can then forget about your lightbulbs for years, as the energy-saving ones last between 8 and 15 times as long." Complete bollocks. The domestic bulbs don't last anywhere near these times. They hardly last as long as the old style. Add the pollution caused by the content of the "eco" bulb and this is an environmental own goal caused by dumb EU bureaucraps.
  • steve
    Oh come on, they were selling eco bulbs at 1p each for years. Anyone who didn't fill their boots can hardly complain about the cost of them.
  • ElBuc
    Energy saving bulbs just have a really horrible light colour. They are also nowhere near the equivalent tungsten wattage.
  • jt
    "No-one [...] is arguing that the newer style bulbs are more energy-efficient". Surely you mean "aren't"?
  • Vernon M.
    As an electrician I'd just like to say that I think they got the whole thing wrong & the manufacturers must be laughing all the way to the banks. I've put up loads of eco lights in different places & find that no one can read a newspaper in their own living room anymore. So they started using halogen lamps which are brighter but do not give a soft light, they blitz out the room in blinding white light. And then there's all the different fittments of small es (screw) mini es. And none of the estimated wattage comparisons are anywhere near correct. so don't worry if you break your leg in the dark cause you helped (not) save the planet. One of the funniest things is the disposal of fluorescent tubes which everybody used to break up & throw in the dustbin. Local councils & government offices now have hundreds of rooms full of thousands of old flouri tubes because it costs them 10pence each to dispose of them!
  • JonB
    "With Christmas rushing worryingly near, does this mean the death of the fairy light?" No, because LED fairy lights have been around for years.

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