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It’s the final switch off for incandescent light bulbs

Saturday 1 September was a day I’m sure many of you were hoping wouldn’t come. Yes, it was the day that the final incandescent light bulbs, 40 and 25 watt, were banned from sale.

Due to an EU directive, retailers will no longer be able to sell incandescent light bulbs of any form. Bans on 60W and 100W have been and gone, as I’m sure you know, but now 40W and 25W bulbs have joined them too.

It’s said that by 2020 the ban will save 39 terawatt-hours of electricity across the EU each and every year. The UK government has even said that it will save the country £108m between 2010 and 2020.

However, I know many Convo commenters aren’t happy with the switch off.

Poor performance of energy saving bulbs?

Apart from the annoyance of being forced by the EU into ditching your incandescent bulbs, many of you haven’t been impressed by the performance of energy saving light bulbs. Your complaints with the most common energy saving bulb (CFLs) range from the amount of time they take to warm up, to being difficult to dispose of responsibly.

However, Peter Hunt, chief exec of the Lighting Industry Association, has said the ‘phase-out has been very smooth’ and added:

‘Concerns about poor performance of replacement bulbs have been proved wrong. The new LED replacements for halogen downlighters that have come on to the market over the past year work just as well, for example. Price is still a barrier, but that’s coming down almost daily as volume increases.’

Are LEDs the answer?

Ah yes, LEDs. These are said to be game changers – the energy saving bulbs that will answer all our calls. They’re said to be much more durable than other energy savers (lasting as long as 25 years), will reach full brightness instantly and some will work with dimmer switches. Of course, they can cost quite a bit more than your old incandescents or CFLs, but the price is coming down. And since they are even cheaper to run than CFLs, they should pay you back over the years.

If we have a look at the Philips MyVision 5W LED, although it will cost you a pretty hefty £12 to buy, it will only cost you 73p to leave on for 1,000 hours. Compare that to the cost of its 40W incandescent equivalent and you’d be looking at £5.80 for the same amount of time. So, presuming you have this one light turned on for 1,000 hours per year, you’d make back that £12 in under three years.

Still, it would be nice to see the price of LED bulbs dropping sooner rather than later – if they were cheaper would you happily give up your old bulbs?

No way around the ban

Some have mentioned that you can get around the ban by going to specialist lighting and hardware stores. However, Peter Hunt told the Guardian:

‘The law is clear: they should not be sold for household use. It says so on the packaging. Any retailer is risking a visit from government inspectors if they continue to sell them.’

So it’s best to steer clear of that then! Though maybe you’ve been stockpiling incandescent light bulbs? Or have you taken to energy saving bulbs like a duck to water?

Are you sad to see the end of incandescent light bulbs?

Yes - I don't think energy saving bulbs are up to the job (56%, 604 Votes)

No - I'm happy to move to energy saving bulbs (44%, 472 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,090

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H.Richardson says:
7 September 2012

I use so called 60W CFL as a 40W.The EU is overstating the light output ! One gets used to being short changed by lots of organisations.Its a way of life.
Roll on cheaper LED`s which have no warm up phase.

Wiseman says:
7 September 2012

For years retailers have been excessivly charging for energy-saving bulbs. I have seen instances of big retailers eg B&Q charging £8 for 4 bulbs then discovered the equivalent in Poundland for £1 a pair. Don’t expect prices in big stores to come down anytime soon.


Fair comment if you are comparing exactly the same product. There are some cheap lamps on the market and I’m not sure how safe they are. I would be worried about fire risk.

I bought some Philips CFLs for 10p each from B&Q, albeit more than a year ago. I’ve seen the same ones on sale for more than £2. I will agree that B&Q is not usually the cheapest source.

If there was more demand for CFLs there would be more competition and prices might fall. The trouble is they last so long, at least for some of us. Even if you had to pay £10 per lamp you would recoup this in electricity savings. That is easy to calculate.


I think as far as pricing is concerned, the fact that for the first umpteen years of the aggressive campaigning to get us all to change over the Energy Companies were subsidising the cost of CFL’s so that they were being sold more cheaply in the shops, a fact which seems to have escaped the notice of many of the population until prices started to go up …..oddly at the same time that the first tungstens went off sale, what a strange co-incidence that was?! …. is probably why the larger stores are still selling at over-inflated prices. (I.e. to keep their profit margin where it was when the lamps were being subsidised.)

Of course, the cheap lamps in pound-shops may (or may not) be inferior quality too, I don’t know.

I do know that with every other “green” initiative or technology that I’ve had anything to do with, you have to buy the more (or most) expensive of whatever it is to stand a chance of making any real savings in the long run. I’m stopping short of saying that I believe that to be the case with CFL’s because I simply have not, and won’t for some time be, used enough of them. I have have a good number of bitter disappointments with cheaper CFL’s, especially the less-well-known brands, and I’ve had fantastic experiences with the Old Phillips ones, but bitter disappointments with newer Phillips ones. At present the best I have first-hand experience of are Crompton and Sylvania ones. Since mum’s house was re-wired almost 2 years ago all of her lights have had these brands in and all are still operating, even though she has lights on an awful lot of the time. That said, they still have had to be 30w plus to give the level of light that she used to get, and still requires for reading an needlework, from 150w and 250w tungstens, and getting hold of 30w of higher cfl’s is not as easy as I think it should be.


By and large in most circumstance I am happy with the change. However where the wall light fitting has a clear glass “shade” a clear glass incandesent bulb has no equivalent substitute.A very expensive change or an ugly replacement.

Brian Rex says:
8 September 2012

Every wall light switch in my home is a dimmer switch. Despite initial assurances all replacement bulbs appear to be non-dimmable. I have accumalated a largesh store of the forbidden product which, because most lamps when switched on are on low-dim, probably use as little power and last as long as the new lamps. This is with the excepion of LED lamp which should be availabe to use with dimmer switches.


You are right in saying that dimming an incandescent lamp makes it last very much longer but your guess that it will use much less power is completely wrong. Incandescent bulbs operated below full brightness are extremely uneconomical, though this is not well known. I am surprised they have not been banned for this and other reasons.

The traditional use of table lamps and wall lamps with smaller lamps at full brightness is far more economical. Dimmable CFLs can flicker. Beware that some LED lamps are unsuitable for dimming.


I am strongly in favour of saving energy and am generally comfortable with the performance of CFLs. My big gripe is that, to my knowledge, there is no CFL replacement for the “golf-ball” lamp. I have a set of 12 wall and pendant light units designed for golf-ball lamps; the smallest double-coil CFL is too tall and looks ridiculous in the fittings. I will be obliged to replace all the fittings when my stock of lamps runs out – and that’s a waste of the planet’s resources and energy which will take some time to offset by using CFLs in new fittings. CFL designers must do better!