Like it or not, we’ll all have to embrace low-energy lighting sooner rather than later – especially when traditional bulbs are to be banned. So what is it about the humble energy saving light bulb that still gets us so fired up?
An EU ban last year on ultra-bright traditional 100 watt (W) bulbs was greeted with shouts of consternation and a stampede of stockpiling shoppers.
Now the death knell has been sounded for its 75 watt cousin. As part of an EU initiative to phase out less efficient light bulbs by 2012, shops will no longer be able to buy new stock of traditional clear 75W incandescent light bulbs from 1 September.
Shops are only able to sell-off existing light bulb stocks – so when they’re gone, they’re gone. According to reports, ‘panic buyers’ are hitting the shops once again.
Under the spotlight
Despite their money-saving and eco-friendly credentials, poor old energy saving light bulbs can’t seem to shake off a reputation gained early on. Too dull, too slow to warm up, too expensive, and too unsightly a shape for a chandelier…
Things are – excuse the pun – looking a bit brighter these days. In the Which? test lab, only a few energy saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) really struggled to get started, and all lived up to their light output claims. More shapes and varieties are available now, too.
Halogen bulbs, meanwhile, offer a light more closely aligned to traditional bulbs, and relatively-new LED bulbs provide a third energy saving alternative with lots of potential.
Light bulb lamentations
But energy-efficient bulbs are far from perfect and, apart from their environmental benefits, they can put off consumers.
The light quality from a CFL still doesn’t give the same effect as a traditional bulb. Halogens aren’t as efficient as CFLs, and don’t last as long. LED bulbs are more expensive, and – at the moment – have a low light output that can’t replace old-style bulbs on a like-for-like basis.
And it’s still hard to find affordable energy saving lights for your dimmer switch.
The problem seems to be that technology isn’t quite keeping up with legislation. In September 2011, the same fate awaits 60W bulbs. And the year after that, all traditional light bulbs are for the chop.
Are we – and the little energy saving light bulb – ready for the changeover?