Brussels: Old-school lightbulbs to be gone by 2012
little microscopic amount helps
The European Commission has adopted new regulations which will see ordinary incandescent lightbulbs phased out across Europe. Users will be able to choose in future from fluorescent lamps, including energy-saving "bulbs", and more-efficient halogen incandescents.
"These groundbreaking measures respond to the request of the 2007 Spring European Council to the Commission (confirmed by the European Parliament) to address the efficiency of lighting products both in the domestic and tertiary sectors by 2009.
"By replacing last century lighting products by more performant technologies, European homes, buildings and streets will keep the same quality of lighting, while saving energy, CO2 and money", said Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.
According to the Commission:
Households will still have the choice between long-life compact fluorescent lamps that currently yield the highest energy savings (up to 75% less energy than incandescent lamps), or efficient incandescent lamps (of the halogen type) fully equivalent to conventional bulbs in terms of light quality, providing between 25% and 50% energy savings.
Depending on the number of lamps installed, an average household switching from conventional bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps could make net savings (taking into account higher purchasing price of the lamps) between 25 and 50 € a year on their electricity bill.
The lighting efficiency measures have already been approved by the member states and the European Parliament, so yesterday's adoption by the Commission is the final step into formal regulation.
Old-style incandescent bulbs, according to the Commission, will start to disappear from the European market this year and will be totally gone by the end of 2012.
The EC estimates that reduced use of electric power for lighting across Europe will save "close to 80" terawatt-hours by the year 2020. That's a trifle less than three per cent of a single year's UK energy consumption.
The new measures "deliver a clear message about the EU's commitment to reach its energy efficiency and climate protection targets," according to Commissioner Piebalgs. ®
The elephant in the room...
...is that our world-wide electricity production is going to go up by a factor of 7 by 2050 (as the 3rd-world countries come up to our standards of living), while the world-wide CO2 emissions need to go down 50%. That means that cosmetic changes are red herrings. The *only* solution that will work is nuclear power.
Everything in it's place
I have a house full of compact fluorescents (although the sooner they get *more* compact so that they fit behind uplighters properly, the better). The exceptions are a couple of artsy ceiling lights which take miniature bulbs for which - for some reason - LED replacements aren't yet available (I rarely turn them on anyway), and the halogen spotlights in the kitchen and bathroom (tried a compact fluorescent, but they're neither bright enough nor directional enough; awaiting cheaper and better LEDs). Oh, and a filament security light which is only on for a few seconds - I'd switch it to LEDs if full-size LED bulbs weren't stupidly expensive.
I have, fortunately, no dimmers - although last I heard dimmer-based CFLs were becoming available.
Still, banning incandescents is a dumb idea. By all means *tax* the incandescent bulbs to subsidise a switch to something with a lower power consumption, but when I'm trying to colour match a print-out and don't want random metamerism getting in the way neither a fluorescent nor an LED will do: full daylight spectrum or nothing.
As for astronomy (stuff the astrologers - they can make it up anyway) it'd be better if councils would stop using high pressure sodium street lights unnecessarily. Low pressure sodium (the very orange ones) are easy for astronomers to filter out and are more efficient anyway. In a few places I'll buy that having less monochromatic light would help people avoid driving off the road, but most of them are just wasteful.
(Alien, because I'd like to be able to see mars from my back garden.)
@A J Stiles
If incandescent bulbs don't make a noticable contribution to heating then why are we being told to replace them with CFLs? It's only the heat output that leads to lighting inefficiency and you say this heat output is negligible. Make your mind up.