Engadget recently covered Malcolm Turnbull’s proposal to phase out incandescent light bulbs in favour of compact fluorescent bulbs. (The comments on the article discuss much of what I cover here – and then some!)
Let’s start by saying that I am a big fan of these lights. They’re more efficient and, if you choose carefully, the light can be more pleasing (I like the “soft white” light). I’m phasing out all of my incandescents as they go pop.
However, while Turnbull’s intentions may be good (benefit of the doubt – the cynic in me thinks that it’s more likely a political move) I don’t believe phasing out is the right implementation. Increasing taxes on incandescents or subsidising costs for compact fluorescents (perhaps a combination of both?) would be better IMHO.
The reason is that compact fluorescent bulbs aren’t perfect in all situations. Two that immediately spring to mind are motion detection lights (like the common automatic outdoor lights) and fridge lights. CF’s don’t respond well to switching on and off quickly – it shortens their life dramatically and there is typically a lag when the light is powered. They also have problems with cold temperatures. Both of these scenarios are currently better handled with incandescents.
But for general home use please consider making the switch to CF’s. Although the initial outlay is higher they’ll last a lot longer and will have less environmental impact. As a bonus they cost less to run (typically you’ll recoup the higher outlay and then some).
Tip: Buy a couple of different brands and models before replacing every light in your house. Most models give off a different quality of light and you’ll need to find one you like.