Australia To Phase Out Inefficient Light Bulbs

In a “World First”, the Australian government has announced plans to phase out inefficient light bulbs, aiming for full enforcement of new lighting standards legislation by 2009 to 2010.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull MP, claimed the step should reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tonnes by 2012.

Everyone knows that energy-efficient light bulbs use 20% of the electricity used by a conventional incandescent bulb, last 4 times as long, and offer considerable savings in energy and running costs. And the clincher is that they are directly interchangeable with ‘old-fashioned’ (OF) bulbs with no perceptible difference in use. It’s a no-brainer, right?.

Well, perhaps. As a conscientious consumer, I’ve tried really hard to embrace low-energy (LE) bulbs, but they have their drawbacks. A straight swap of an 11W LE for a 60W OF makes it very obvious that they are not like-for-like. The LE is dimmer, sometimes requiring the use of two lamps where one would have been enough before. Because it uses a different technology, LE light has a different quality, making it unsuitable for detailed work such as reading. OF lamps produce a white light spectrum that is nearly equivalent to that of the sun, whereas LE bulbs always have certain colours missing.

There are other issues too. LE bulbs don’t work with dimmer switches. Their quoted lifespans can be substantially reduced by erratic or marginal power supplies. Some LE bulbs take a long time to ‘warm up’ to full brightness, making a quick visit to the bathroom longer than it should be. Fluorescent lighting technology can introduce a strobe effect that has health and safety issues for power tool users, making OF lighting mandatory in workshop environments.

So will the Australian blanket ban on incandescent light bulbs actually work? I’m betting it won’t. There’s a getout clause in the press release: “Special needs areas, such as medical lighting and oven lights, will be taken into consideration”. Plenty there to justify a change of direction after the next election.

Low-energy lighting is great for the porch , the landing and the garden shed. It’s definitely not the automatic best choice.

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12 Responses to Australia To Phase Out Inefficient Light Bulbs

  1. matt says:

    > Low-energy lighting is great for the porch , the landing and the garden shed. It’s definitely not the automatic best choice.

    Gee-whiz mate. I agree with ya on that one. 🙂

  2. keithsc says:

    I only learnt the hard way they don’t work with dimmer switches. So much for being long life!

  3. PHIL says:

    Great idea………but then again, don’t they have more sunshine down under? Don’t they spend every evening outside swigging beer around the barbie? So they don’t need so many light bulbs do they?

    I love the idea of LE bulbs and use them wherever I can…….but they really do add to the Wintertime blues. They simply aren’t cheerful.

    Is it beyond the wit of mankind….the same mankind that put a man on the moon, invented the microwave oven and Microsoft Windows to create a lightbulb that uses little energy but gives off a nice bright light?


  4. PHIL says:

    And another thing……………what pray tell is the point of adding a dimmer switch to a LE bulb? They’re dim all the time anyway?

    I’ve heard that new LED bulbs are just around the corner. Low energy and bright.

  5. matt says:

    What amazes me with announcements like this is;

    1. such policies look like knee jerk reactions to the threat of climate change
    2. look like easy to implement solutions
    3. look like a politician is doing something about CC, but with minimal effort
    4. are the path of least friction because they don’t involve too much debate
    5. is a technology based solution with little else involved
    6. is centred on technology that is already available, therefore the solution requires no real thinking, foresight or planning.

    Characteristics of a lazy & simplistic Howard government unfortunately.

  6. Pete Smith says:

    And another thing……………what pray tell is the point of adding a dimmer switch to a LE bulb? They’re dim all the time anyway?

    LOL Well of course we’re talking about swapping bulbs in an existing dimmer setup. The dimmer switch in our front room has been in place for over 20 years. The funny thing is I can ‘dimly’ remember dimmers being promoted not only on lifestyle issues, but also as an energy-saving device. I can see that turning the dimmer down reduces the energy consumption of the bulb, but the dimmer switch circuitry itself consumes power while it’s on.

  7. Pete Smith says:

    Matt, 100% agree with you on all points apart from the last one. Well 5 out of 6 ain’t bad 😎
    The plan focusses on phasing-out inefficent bulbs, but makes no specific recommendations on the replacement. Compact fluorescents get a mention because they have the greatest market penetration. LED bulbs are great for specific applications, but are some way down the line for universal domestic use. The guys at Renewable Energy UK have good info on this.

  8. earthpal says:

    And just for fun, click on the news link, then click ‘latest news’ and have a look at the picture. Hehehehe.

  9. Pete Smith says:

    And there was me thinking squirrels were best known for hiding their nuts 😎

  10. earthpal says:

    LOL. Very funny Pete. Wish I’d thought of that!

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