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Farewell to 60 watt bulbs – are you sad to see them go?

Exploding light bulb

This time last year, I was writing about the demise of the 75W traditional light bulb, banned under EU rules. Now it’s the turn of 60 watt bulbs, which will also soon be disappearing from shop shelves.

The move is part of an EU initiative to phase out less efficient light bulbs by 2012 in favour of energy-savers.

Shops will no longer be able to buy new stocks of traditional clear 60W incandescent light bulbs from 1st September – following a similar ban on 75 watt bulbs last year, and 100 watt bulbs the September before that.

For shoppers, it means swapping over to energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or newer LED or halogen bulbs instead – or alternatively stocking up on old-style bulbs before they’re gone for good.

Your light bulb leanings

So how will you be lighting up your home in the near future?

Love, hate – or hoard – them, the little light bulb has been a real talking point over the past year here on Which? Conversation, and lots of Convo commenters have been telling us how they’ve been dealing with the switchover in their homes:

  • CFL convert: ‘I now use Osram Duluxstar Mini Twist 23W spirals which give out light equivalent to somewhere between 100W and 150W tungsten, quite quickly. And I bought a Varilight Dimmable EnergySaver+ just a couple of weeks ago. Yes – DIMMABLE!’ said EMCman.
  • The stockpiler: ‘I really object to being forced into wasting money and time replacing these wall lights because of a totally unecessary ban on traditional bulbs. So I am doing what loads of others are doing – stockpiling old lamps to delay changing the lights – hopefully until either small golfball LEDS are available (and cheap) or the government sees sense,’ fumed John.
  • Hopeful about halogens: ‘We’ve just started using halogen bulbs. They use more power and aren’t so long lasting but are very bright and come on instantly. Not too expensive,’ Rosemary Nimmo commented.
  •  Liking LEDs: ‘I have replaced 12 x 50 watt halogens with these 3 LED, 3 watt, soft white bulbs which give out 300 lumens… I like the resulting light and I can use all of them at the same time and use less energy than one of the originals,’ said Daiverse.

Lighting up your home

Our lab-based tests suggest that the technology is improving, but the reputation of energy-saving light bulbs continues to be far from glowing, with various issues making the idea of change offputting to many of us.

So what are people’s main complaints? The ‘truly awful’ or ‘very dim’ light emitted, compatibility problems with specific lights, the aesthetics (‘ugly’), a dislike of the way the phase-out has been conducted (‘big brother banning’), and concerns about reports of a recent jump in the cost of CFLs.

So how are you dealing with the changeover in your household? Are you a grudging or enthusiastic energy-saving bulb user, an early adopter of LED lighting or have you got a supply of traditional bulbs large enough to keep you going for years to come?


Although it is no doubt true about the mercury in CFLs, how come nobody worried about it when it was in conventional flourescent tubes, many millions of which must have been broken in the 80-odd years that they have been in use?

A while ago I was writing about Quarz Halogen bulbs as a dimmable and instantly-lighting substitute for CFLs. I have now had four of these installed for a few months and the first one has just failed. Apparently 2000 hours is the best you’ll get from a bulb and, as they use far more electricity than CFLs and cost £2.50 each to buy they are a very expensive alternative to either CFLs or conventional tungsten bulbs.

I will be replacing them again, this time with LEDs, once these are available with a high enough rating – which I understand won’t be all that long.


You are right about fluorescent tubes, Richard, and the earlier ones often contained much more mercury than CFLs. Thermometers and barometers contained very much more and although the use of mercury has been phased out, there are plenty of these in homes. The thing we should be more worried about is mercury (actually organomercury compounds) in fish. This is why we are advised to restrict our intake of oily fish.

Before we had dimmers, the way of dimming room lighting was to use table lights and/or standard lights instead of the ceiling light. This still works and it is not necessary to have dimmable CFLs or LED lights.

Phasing out of old fashioned incandescent bulbs is helping to increase the variety of LED lamps available and decrease prices. There is still a need for a sensibly priced replacement for 100 watt bulbs but hopefully this will be available soon. Many are discovering that halogen bulbs are expensive, both in replacement and running cost – as you have said.

wildberry says:
15 May 2012

À propos some interesting former exchanges with Richard English, tytalus, and others regarding the finite/infinite nature of fossil fuels, it occurred to me that the following [Carpe Diem, 12 May 2012] might be of some interest:

“The Green River Formation—an assemblage of over 1,000 feet of sedimentary rocks that lie beneath parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming—contains the world’s largest deposits of oil shale. USGS estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil. At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves. The vast untapped energy resources of Green River, the largest oil shale deposit in the world, provide additional support for the idea that “peak oil” is “peak idiocy.” –Mark J. Perry.

This may, of course, be dismissed as unsound science, suspect advocacy, or unproven guesswork. But it is worth examining with a view to perhaps modifying one’s earlier convictions.


The fact that new reserves have been found does not mean they are infinite. Whereas it is doubtless a good thing that we might have access to more oil than was originally thought, that shouldn’t mean we should be profligate with the stuff.

There are other consequences of profligacy apart from consumption; the fact that we in the western world have access to as much food as we can eat, does not mean we should all be gluttons.


I agree with Richard. Oil is an important raw material for producing thousands of chemicals, plastics and many other products that we use. We should attempt to conserve oil (and coal) for use by future generations. Generating electricity creates pollution and other environmental damage. I cannot believe how wasteful we have become in the western world, during my lifetime.


Hi Wildberry,

Not sure about quotes of the finite aspects of things. If everything I heard as a kid were true we would have run out of oil on the late 90’s, Moores Law would have ceased in the 2000’s, there would still be 9 planets in the solar-system and Asia would have overtaken world financial domination… Ah, maybe somethings were better researched than others.

That’s why I never state how long things last for, but what is and the risks of what happens if we don’t change. I personally am more worried about running out of land before we run out of oil, for example.

wildberry says:
27 May 2012

Not for the first time, tytalus, you have hit the nail on the head. Whilst obsessively contending about the meaning, application, and usefulness of terms like “infinite” the world keeps on turning. I don’t think you need worry about running out of land, incidentally. The African continent has vast land resources. There is no objective reason why there should be famine in any part of it. Bad management, poor stewardship, political upheavals, and war wreak untold and unnecessary damage on a continent blessed with enormous natural potential – yet cursed with a pitiful lack of things we in the First World take for granted.
Law and order characterise the systems that underpin our continuing prosperity and if that breaks down we may well experience some of the chaos that seems endemic in much of Africa. One looks at Greece with foreboding.
But Richard and wavechange do have a point; waste is indeed appalling and mindless profligacy unforgivable. Equally unforgivable, in my view, is the patronising and politically inspired actions of certain self-righteous groups who, with the unwholesome and incorruptible fanaticism of latter-day Saint-Justs, even now are planning to destroy and thereby hinder the production of GM crops that would ameliorate famine throughout large areas of the world. This is simply because they don’t like them and/or don’t approve of the large companies that have develop them.


There are different concerns about GM crops. Unfortunately the general public do not have the knowledge to understand the science and often regard all GM crops in the same way. The best way forward seems to be to focus on gaining acceptance for the least controversial examples, such as Golden Rice.

In the late 70s and early 80s there was a lot of concern about genetically manipulated bacteria. That is history and GM bacteria and yeast are widely used to make pharmaceuticals and other products. There are procedures for containment but no-one worries about these GM microorganisms now. It means that diabetics can have ‘human’ insulin without the need for human tissues. I still have reservations about the use certain GM plants, until risks are properly evaluated.

In the same way that GM products are becoming accepted, many are now happy with their energy saving light bulbs. One of my friends who was vehemently opposed to them only two years ago is now trying to persuade others of their advantages.