Bright Ideas

Pic by Alice Popkorn

Green living: Incandescent light bulb phase out saves you money

Hot on the heels of the EU and many other countries worldwide, the phase out of incandescent light bulbs begins in Canada and the States in 2012. Although some specialized lighting will be phased out by 2014, sales on incandescent home and apartment lighting will end when stocks do. Lighting accounts for 30% of home and apartment building utilities bills and 10-12% of the national energy usage. The switch to more energy efficient CFLs and LEDs seems like a natural progression. However, the proposed change has caused heated debate and opposition from many quarters.

In the States, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was signed by then president, George Bush. His aim to reduce energy consumption by 20% in 10 years called for the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs over a two year period from 2012 to 2014. Light bulbs will have to be 25% more efficient and the proposed replacements include CFLs and LEDs.

In Canada a similar move to phase out of incandescents also met with strong opposition. The federal government announced its plan to introduce mandatory changes to more energy efficient lighting in April 2007. The plan also calls for the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs starting in 2012. Proponents of the bill say massive cuts to CO₂ emissions and savings for property owners and the government justify the phasing out of incendescents.

Opponents of the change cite various reasons for their desire to be able to use their light bulbs of choice. Most do not like the flat white light emitted by the replacement bulbs. For Europeans the major concern was health as 53.6% of people feared an increase in mercury poisoning. Although LEDs are mercury free, CFLs contain 4-5 g of mercury. Up to 4% of this mercury is released when the bulb is broken. Governments assure users that the mercury does not pose a health threat, but have called for manufacturers to reduce mercury levels.

72.3% of Americans opposed the phase out of incandescents on the basis that the government should not be imposing restrictions on citizens. They claimed the ‘light bulb socialism’ infringes on their rights. President Obama’s administration has supported the Bush proposal, saying that the reduction in energy usage and CO₂ emissions justifies the means.

When the EU made the change in 2009, incandescent light bulb sales increased by 150% as consumers rushed to stockpile their beloved bulbs. Once implementation was complete, the EU claimed that it had reduced CO₂ emissions by 15 million tons annually. They estimate that each household saves €50 per year and the EU will save €5-10 billion annually.

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Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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2 thoughts on “Bright Ideas

  1. David

    I am not a fan of the cfl bulb as the light irratates my eyes. I think LED’s will be the future. However, it’s still difficult to replicate the warm white light of incandescent lightbulbs with them. And LED’s are very focused light streams, they don’t spread very well, so you need more of them to cover a space properly. They require very litte energy, produce no heat, and last a long time.

    1. Nikki Fotheringham Post author

      Agreed David and thanks for the comments. I think that most people feel the same way and its for this reason that they are reticent to say goodbye to their incandescent light bulbs. If people could save money, use less energy, only have to change a light bulb ever ten years and have the warm moody glow of incandescents, they would definitely have have no problem tossing out their old bulbs. Lets hope technology catches up quickly.

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