/ Home & Energy

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?

Steve says:
2 September 2011

I’ve replaced most of my incandescents with the CFL type – the subsidised (by us!) 10p each variety. I think I’d be a dope not to! But now the price is increasing… no. Not happy with that! My sister has a lot of fittings that are non-standard (small bayonet and screws) – these have almost never been subsidised so an 8 lamp chandelier costs a fortune to relamp. We’ve done it, and they are still getting regular lamp failures – so nothing like the claimed longevity. I can’t help but feel that market forces should be driving this – not intervention by idiots! If the new lamps are too expensive to sell under their own steam, it’s likely that the resources used to create them are more damaging than the cheaper alternatives which may consume fewer resources.

Val V. says:
2 September 2011

I share all the typical complaints about CFLs. On my very large landing I have two sets of wall lights – one set is still incandescent; the other holds CFLs. The effect of the latter can only be described as ghostly – the first indication of a spectral presence since the house was first built around 1160AD.

I’m all for energy saving, but not at the expense of instant, bright light from an aesthetically pleasing shaped bulb. And certainly not at the now vast expense of purchasing said annoying bulbs.

I am concerned about the rising cost of the most widely available alternatives. Also I am going to have to replace several fittings because none of the alternatives found so far will fit.

MalcolmJ says:
2 September 2011

I hate low energy bulbs. Even when they reach full output they are not as powerful as claimed; this means that the savings (in cost and emissions) are less than claimed. Also, because of the warm-up time, I leave them on in circumstances where I would switch off incandescent bulbs – so the savings are again less than claimed. We should all consider our effect on the environment. But, after 50 non-driving years, why should I be forced to use these pathetic bulbs?

Sheila says:
2 September 2011

Whatever happened to the concept of allowing consumer choice???
I’d choose a mix if I could, most suitable lighting product for each location.
For a start, energy savers are a total pain in a windowless wc and my bathroom is so dim now I cannot use my “solar” (ie natural or artificial light) powered scales. So back to buying batteries for scales and for torches!!
I’ll do without exterior lights rather than have to alter the existing fittings, as its not a diy job and I’m not inclined to pay for a professional. Greener maybe but not safer!
And finally, I’ll be throwing away several table lamps because the new bulbs dont fit. What a WASTE!

Norman Rodgers says:
2 September 2011

Yes! when will this contant interference by the EU on what we can buy or do or otherwise is getting out of hand. I have large rooms in my house and need the right levels of light particularly as Winter approaches. I have tried numerous so called low energy bulbs/lamps but none live up to there eqivalent light output to Tungsten filament types. True their electrical consumption is considerbly less and we all grateful for that as Electrcity supply companies ramp up their already over inflated prices. It remains however within the spectrum of the light generated by these low cost bulbs and to mind is far less natural than that of Tungsten Filament Types. This is always I would suspect that users are doubtful of the claims in light output claims by the various manfacturers. It’s all to do with how the human perceives the light source. So very dissappointed with the demise of the 60 watt tungsten bulb but I was dissapointed when the 150 & 100 watt types could be obtained off the supermarket. It’s high time we stood up and told the EU to stop meddling with our lives.

Mike Wilkinson says:
2 September 2011

We have eight wall brackets in our dining room with ‘golf ball’ 40w incandescents.

The low-energy ‘replacements’ are truly awful, change the colour of the room entirely and bathe everyone in a sickly green glow.

I have stockpiled with old-style bulbs bought on the net and will get more. Sod the Eurocrats.

Rootin Tootin says:
2 September 2011

Had the same problem, some makes sell what they call ” A White Light”. These maybe a little more expensive, but the light they give out is brilliant !! have a shop around. I think Philips make them !!!

We converted our entire home to low energy lighting, fitting by fitting, includung outside security lights some years ago. We are entirely happy with the result and indeed much prefer the moonlight glow of the exterior lighting to the bright glare of the previous system.
We have no problem reading or carrying out any other activities by artificial light with the sole exception of my ‘daylight’ bulb for detailed embroidery work where distinuishing colours is important. I’d have needed to use one of these with old fashioned lighting so no difference there.
We also use 100% renewable energy from Good Energy to power the house, so have made significant changes to our lifestyle to help ‘save the planet’.
I know of a church where they changed their light bulbs and in some cases their fittings and cut their bills by 80%. So there is a good financial reason to make the effort to do this.

mary mac says:
2 September 2011

We fitted new halogen lights to our kitchen and utility… the bulbs have needed replacing far more frequently than we were used to with the old ones and are much more expensive. Just another con.

Rootin Tootin says:
2 September 2011

I personally have been using these energy saving light bulbs for years, FOR SAFETY REASONS!!
The advantages of not having to climb step ladders very often to change a ceiling fitting is brilliant!
For my elderly parents this was so advantagious. The life span of a bulb is measured in years… this meant that I was no longer worried that if a bulb went out, that they would try to change it themselves. Also the safety feature of the bulbs, fixtures & fitting staying cool is brilliant. No more fishin for a towel to retrieve a dead bulb with, brittle lamp holders which can easily snap in your hand. Also plaster work doesn’t dry out and crack. The bulbs last for approx 10years. I and my family would not even want to go back to the traditional, hot elec guzzling bulbs. I am sure that there maybe reports of less fires in peoples homes !!!! People cant appreciate the advantages of low enery bulbs until they have tried them… ps they have even bought out a Philips bulb that can operate with a dimmer switch. I purchased mine from John Lewis in N/Cle. Just the job for my new grandchilds nursery. Now that what I call progress !!!

Another advantage of low energy bulbs is that plastic lampholders do not get damaged by heat. With conventional bulbs it was fairly common for the ring holding the shade to jam or disintegrate, and sometimes the whole bayonet fitting broke. Changing a lampholder while perching on a stepladder is worse than just changing a bulb.

If CFLs were the established form of lighting and there was a move to introduce incandescent light bulbs I think there would be a lot more criticism. The problem is that many people don’t like change and no-one likes change being imposed on them.

I have yet to meet a CFL that has approached its stated life and light output. They fail readily. Dimming is awkward. Their life in applications like security (frequent on/off cycles) is poor. Low temperature performance is poor.
Under ideal conditions they are more efficient than incandescents but I strongly suspect that a study of the total life costs of a large population of CFLS (manufacture to disposal) would show that they not as ‘green’ as claimed.
Incandescents should remain available – put an energy tax on them!

I suppose you might call me a reluctant convert to so-called modern low energy bulbs.As a retired professional engineer I am quite aware of the technical issues but so far remain disappointed by the industries efforts to give us truly worthy equivalents to the traditionalincandescent bulb.
Too many of the reasonably priced and commonly available alternatives are either or both not equivalent in luminosity or take far to long to achieve full light output.
There is also one other issue-many are larger than the old incandescent counterparts and won’t therefore fit existng fittings/aplliances.
We live in hope that before too long such issues will be properly addressed.

Valerie says:
2 September 2011

We have used low energy lamps for some years now. They have improved but still no instant bright light when needed. We still have two old ceiling lamps in the living room and bedroom which are rarely used, but very handy when looking for anything with more than four legs or something dropped. The energy lamps remain cool which is great when reading after dark in the warmer weather, no sweating, and of course a safety feature should you want the lamps on a timer when away from the house. All in all we like them but there is room for improvemnt.

I cannot stand the “fierce” light that CFL’s give out. I have stockpiled enough old bulbs to keep me going for quite a while. If and when I am forced to use CFL’s, in some locations they just continue to flicker and never go off, when switched off. What am I meant to do? I guess I will have to continue my programme of switching to another type of lighting such as halogen spot bulbs which I now use in 3 out of 4 bedrooms – or are these going to become “illegal” eventually.
Personally, I am not convinced about the so called pros of switching to CFL’s

James says:
2 September 2011

I cannot get replacement energy saving bulbs that will fit our kitchen & bathroom halogen fitments. The fitments are not much more than 10 years old. I have bought energy saving R80 spotlights at more than 5 times the price of “ordinary” R80s that have popped before the conventional ones. The shape & size of the low wattage bulbs are at best cumbersome at worst downright ugly. I have found that the brightness & quality of light varies quite significantly with LW bulbs. Some older LW bulbs take some time to “warm up.” As you have no doubt guessed I am not a fan. Why can we not have the option of buying & paying for what we want without bureaucracy from Europe stopping us? P.S. I saw an electrical expert on TV saying that LW bulbs must be disposed of properly because of the mercury content. Yeh. I can see us all rushing down to our recycling centre with our bag of expired LW bulbs!

Peter Burian says:
2 September 2011

They are luorescent or, better described as FOULrescent.Not as some careless web sites refer to them Flourescent.

JohnH says:
2 September 2011

I am little concerned about Dave D’s comments Quote
“I’ve never bought any of the brand-less cfl’s and I’ve never used the freebies sent by electricity companies and the like – they have all been given to charity shops untouched because I don’t trust them to be safe”

OK for other peoples houses then !

I am on a roll with cutting energy use, last year I fitted a new boiler and saved £300. So I spent my savings on LEDs, yes it was that much for the whole house bar the kitchen, a T8tube and looking forward to see less electric spend. And I am very happy with the quality of light. Just check the lumens don’t go with the 150w equivalent patter that may companies quote.
Coincidentally, my teenage son comes home with an old uplighter and reading lamp that had been thrown out up the road with a combined wattage of 350w. With the new LEDs the rest of the house with all lights will only use 152watts. Still its a lot less than before but I have to keep turning his lamp off as it gets too hot in his room, else I will have to buy air conditioning next or do what the oringinal owner did and throw it out, since to date it can’t be fitted with LEDs. Although I have fitted mine I think it best to wait a bit longer for more choice and cheaper LEDs and skip having the CFLs altogether.

Glen D-G says:
2 September 2011

We will have to replace most light fittings in our house, cottage and outbuildings once we have run out of ‘normal’ bulbs. This is hardly green is it? Fortunately we have quite a few bulbs in store but I’m not looking forward to the future unless low energy improve considerably as they take far too long to reach full brightness. I am afraid of falling in the semi dark.

Which? does test the time taken to reach full brightness when they do reports on CFLs. With the exception of one reflector CFL, the others I use are very good in this respect.

I bought some 11W Philips CFLs for 10p each, and they are excellent.

The bulk of lamps in our house are now the tubular jobs. I would have one in my bedside light as well. It is an Anglepoise lamp that I was given for my 21st birthday. Put one of the new lamps in it and it suffers terribly from ‘boozer’s droop’ and is no use as a reading lamp. As a result of this the tungsten reigns therein. Once some bright spark puts LEDs into a wee bulb I’ll switch to that. Until then….