Not Saussure

February 26, 2007

EU plans for low-energy light-bulbs

Filed under: environment, EU, Law, press — notsaussure @ 5:35 pm

I see from Ellee Seymour that

Germany’s environment minister Sigmar Gabriel wants normal light bulbs to be banned in the EU and energy saving lights used instead. Studies show that carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by 25 million tonnes a year if both households and the services sector exchanged traditional light bulbs for energy saving lights.

I’ve never used the things myself since I’m under the impression they’re very expensive — at least in terms of the initial outlay, though I accept they may well save you money over their lifetime — and don’t actually do a particularly good job of providing illumination (cue joke about why they’d appeal to the EU). My impression of these things seems to be confirmed by the comments to Ellee’s article, which probably explains why various governments want to force us to buy something we’re all clearly too foolish to realise is a superior product.

My initial reaction is that I’d give more sympathetic consideration to any environmental proposals coming from the EU if they were to calculate, and justify, the carbon footprint caused by shifting the European Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg once a month because the French insist on it. It certainly costs a good deal in other respects; according to Wikipedia,

Moving various files and equipment between the two cities takes 10 large trucks and the costs for two locations are estimated at €200 million a year. A force of 30 people load the trucks for the 400 km journey between the two locations. Around 5,000 people attached to the Parliament, such as parliamentarians, advisors, clerks and journalists, also move between Brussels and Strasbourg. Most of the parliamentarians are against using Strasbourg and various initiatives have been taken over the years to have Brussels as the sole location. The latest of these initiatives was a EU-wide online petition, oneseat.eu. The petition was not accepted.

I mean, if they expect me to inconvenience myself for the sake of the planet, they might show willing by doing something seems eminently sensible and that most EU parliamentarians want, though the French — particularly the Strasbourg restaurateurs, bar-owners and prostitutes, one imagines — are, for obvious reasons, opposed.

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4 Comments »

  1. This is a very European thing. From your own travels, from mine and from Bill Bryson’s neither here nor there, it’s clear the Europeans are not into illumination [at least not from light bulbs]. therefore therey’re perfectly happy to impose their system onto others who do enjoy a brightly lit room.

    Comment by jameshigham — February 27, 2007 @ 8:29 am

  2. AS a low energy light bulb user, I can confirm:

    1. They cost a lot more and last a lot longer. Unless you’re unemployed or enjoy prancing around on step ladders, the cost/benefit analysis is positive.

    2. They illuminate a room to British Standard whatever – at least as well as a conventional 100 watt.

    3. They’re a funny shape and don’t always fit lamps with poncey shades.

    4. They don’t work with dimmer switches – no idea why, they just don’t.

    Conclusion – they shouldn’t be made mandatory, but anybody who doesn’t use them where possible is a fool.

    Comment by chris y — February 27, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

  3. Thanks for the advice, Chris. There seems, then, to be some dispute about how effective these things actually are — certainly the comments to Ellee’s article suggest people find them less bright. If I want to experiment, I’ve presently got 3 x 100 watt bulbs in a fitting in my living room — with what what do you say I need to replace them to achieve the same effect?

    Comment by notsaussure — February 27, 2007 @ 7:08 pm

  4. As someone who has replaced all my high-use light bulbs with low energy ones, here’s what I’ve found;

    They do cost more to buy than regular bulbs but if you check around on the internet the price is less of an issue. Also, because of the lower energy usage and longer life they are much cheaper in the long term.

    There is still some lag in illumination as they warm up but the newer bulbs are much quicker and as long as you get the right wattage are just as bright as normal bulbs.

    A drawback is that they come in many shapes and sizes that don’t correspond exactly to normal bulbs. The best thing to do is simply measure the dimensions of your normal bulb and the low energy one you are buying. If you’re still not sure, buy one first to check it fits.

    There are now low energy bulbs that work with dimmer switches. Again, check on the internet for providers.

    Finally, should they be made mandatory? Yes because then the suppliers will ensure they are easier to choose and buy and the price will be forced down through mass production, so we save all that electricity wuithout all the cost.

    Comment by DavidM — March 11, 2007 @ 9:48 pm


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