Tuesday, 29 January 2008


Evidently deciding to turn a blind eye to the legion of householders who have filled their homes with banks of dichroic downlighters, their gardens with further effect lighting and their hot-tubs with yet further effect lighting, the British government is seeking to outlaw the sale of everyday lightbulbs to we Brits. As of the end of 2008, it will become virtually impossible to buy a non-eco lightbulb from any supermarket or DIY store.

A good idea you might think. Except that in many cases, aside from the 5 x extra cost-per-bulb, consumers still have to make a choice between 'long-life' or 'low-energy' in many cases, and the manufacturer's built-in obsolescence factor to keep us all buying bulbs and commestibles (of all kinds) has not been phased out!

Did I mention that eco-bulbs can end up using MORE energy than ordinary bulbs if not turned on and off with less frequency than Edison bulbs? This is due to the fact they take so much power to power up, aka the annoying process of their light growing from very dim to still-not-as-bright-as-a-proper-bulb when you switch them on. Hence if householders don't change their habits as well, eco-bulbs are useless! And now eco-bulbs have been linked to health problems for those with photo-sensitivity, skin diseases and epileptic problems. Which begs the question, will 'daylight' bulbs for the depressed also be banned so soon after their invention, or will the depressed have to obtain their 'daylight' bulbs on doctor's prescription?

Aesthetically, although they are getting better, eco-bulbs also give off the most awful harsh light making everyone's skin appear yellowy-grey, a bit like the old fluorescent tubes used to. Not exactly what you'd wish to find in theatres, restaurants or even your own living room! And working in a historic building environment as I do, I cringe to see great big ugly eco-bulbs jammed into a beautiful bronze chandelier, built for delicate flame-effect candle bulbs.

Lighting industry, you'll have to do better than this to convert me!

Meantime I'll be stocking up on proper bulbs to last the rest of my life and doing that funky eco thing I do, which also aids my electricity bill, ie turning them off when not using them!


Dan said...

Yep, your concerns totally echo that of an author - Lionel Shriver, who wrote this in the Guardian.

There is no doubt that eco bulbs have a deadening effect on colour.


Steve said...

Why is it that everything is a good idea - morally and ecologically pleasing - until our politicians start waying in with unneeded dictats? Do they not understand the idea of personal freedom and choice being an essential component of, well, everything really?

Anonymous said...

I do have these bulbs in my house - in most rooms anyway. But they can be very annoying and I often feel I need to carry a torch with me if I go prowling about at night as they warm up so slowly.

But yes, we should definitely be allowed to choose. Being forced into using them makes me want to go and rip all mine out. But I won't. But I will certainly stock up on a few conventional bulbs as eco bulbs are not great where you want warm light and a romantic or relaxing feel.

sid said...

I've always thought of investing in light bulbs ... BUT simply because crystal meth addicts use it to heat up their drugs.

urko said...

There a couple of things here, aren't there?

First - what about all the light fittings (and dimmer switches by the way) heading to landfill sites because they can't accommodate low energy bulbs

Second - A scientifically (and electrically) qualified bloke I know (and trust) has calculations that show that there is no overall gain in winter - since incandescent bulbs give off way more heat. Assuming you want your room to be the same temperature as it was - you have to get the extra heat from somewhere - hence you just use more gas (or whatever energy source) in compensation.