Australia to phase out incandescent bulbs by 2010

21 02 2007

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.

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2 responses

21 02 2007
Brush

While this approach is all good, and I am in favour of it, I still think that the biggest savings in all forms of energy consumption (incl water etc.) is big business. What we really need is a government that isn’t spineless, and will stand up to big business, tell them to clean their acts up, and start getting serious about saving energy, water, and the environment.

Wow! Where the hell did that come from?!?!?

I like boobs.

‘Brush

26 02 2007
Lamb

Au contraire mon ami – how the heck does a government “phase out” a type of light bulb? Ban it? On what basis?

As long as the tech’s there and it’s cheap people will (and should be able to) use it. If you (correctly) put a tax on the energy, which is the cause of your concern it may reduce the problem slightly.
But ultimately, you can’t just force people out of a practical cheap solution in the short term – even if it’s not the best for the environment.

I hate compact flourescents – they’re bloody exxy, and provide a weak light (which you call soft). If you use the recommended replacement wattage for an incandescent you can’t see a bloody thing, and you end up having to go for a version that uses nearly as much power as the horrid old incandescent to get the same brightness.

I am a big fan of low-voltage halogen bulbs though, which produce lots of crisp white light for much less power and consume no space. These seem to be a much more popular solution.
I recently recycled four of these into a wooden box which I can take under the house or wherever and have instant daylight. I call it porta-sun.

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