/ 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?


My only comment is that I have had more headaches and especially concerning, more migraine headaches, since we started using them.

The banning of conventional bulbs is the usual conspiracy between the political class and the manufacturing sector ….. in both their interests.

If the the politicains would pay more attention to what they are really needed for …… and less attention to popularity seeking (look at what we’ve done, saved the planet) …. we would be well served. If they kept their snouts out of the troughs offered by big manufacturing ….. we would be well served.

As Ronald Regan said ” Government IS the probelm”.

The advantage of the new technology bulbs is that they do not give out as much heat in the execution of the task of giving out light.

In our house, that means we have to get the heat from somewhere else …… or go colder, which we would prefer not to do. In our case, that heat from somewhere else happens to be solid fuel burned in a stove …… and as with many domestic house heating arrangements we do not have the means of scrubbing the exhaust or the technical means of making sure the burn is relatively clean. The same would hold true, realtive to large scale electricity production, for any domestic heating arrangement ….. oil or gas.

So the political class have effectively swapped 80% of the relatively clean electricity that went to light bulbs and appeared as useful heat ….. for the relatively dirty production of that heat through our domestic heating systems.

This is quite apart from the quality and quantity of light coming from these new technology bulbs. In many cases we would need to augment the poor lighting conditions we are now forced to endure with additional lighting in our homes.

Quite frankly, this decision by our political class, I suspect in the sole interest of big business ….. is nothing short of a disgrace …… and Which? ought to start a campaign to reverse it.

CHRIS says:
2 September 2011

Veritas – It is Ridiculous to compare the amount of Heat generated by Light bulbs to the Method of Replacing that `Lost Heat` – I.E. That it would Cost a `Noticeable Amount` to `Replace` the Heat from Light bulbs with that from Central Heating.

When the Central Heating is being used it is NOT `Supplemented` by the Heat from the Light bulbs to ANY Calculable / `Noticeable` Degree.

The Heating System Room Thermostat is what controls the `On / Off` of the Boiler and any Heat from Light bulbs would `Negligible` within the Property in relation to the Operation of the Room Thermostat.

Even in Rooms that have Radiator Thermostatic Valves – the `Heat Gain` from a Light bulb is `Insignificant`.

Any `Heat Replacement` by the Central Heating System after changing Incandescent Light Bulbs to Energy Efficient Bulbs would be almost Nothing per Year !

Light Bulbs in a Property do NOT Contribute in a `Measurable` / `Practical` / `Money Saving on Heating` / Way towards the COST of running Your Central Heating.

It COULD be Argued that the Heat from the Bulbs DOES `Contribute` – BUT it wouId be so `Infinitesimal` an amount as to be Irrelevant !

N.B. IF You are adding up the Amount of Wattage for the Bulbs X the amount of Hours of Use per Day X 365 Days per Year [ Minus Unoccupied Days] – This Would Seem to show `Significant` amounts of Heat per Year – But without these Bulbs the Central Heating System would NOT have to Produce that amount of `Additional Heat` – The Heating System would Already be Producing Enough Heat for the Property – With or Without the Heat from the Light Bulbs.

I am a Building Services Engineer – For any of My Colleagues out there the Point that I am trying to make here is that the `Calculated Heat` from a number of Incandescent Light bulbs being Removed from a Property and being Replaced with Energy Efficient Light Bulbs would Not require the same amount of `Lost Heat` to be Replaced by the Central Heating – Therefore Costing that Amount in Energy Use as `Additional Costs` to the Householder.

I hope that this Information will Help `Dispel the Comments Posted by `Veritas`


Has anyone actually done a proper comparison between CFLs and incandescents? By that I mean have the measured the light output/temperature comparing the best 60W lamp and a so-called equivalent 18W CFL? Have the included the cost to the environment of manufacture and DISPOSAL of CFLs?

CFL have electronics built into each lamp, some very unhealthy materials such as Mercury and are a pain in the butt to dim. Traditional incandescents are dead simple to manufacture, have no electronic components, no harmful materials and can be easily dimmed.

I don’t see how scrapping the traditional lamp is justified when there are so many of those dreadful halogen downlighters installed everywhere. My neighbours have TEN in their kitchen. Ten tiny pools of light slurping 500 Watts to light a kitchen. In comparison, the humble 60W lamp is pure innocence and simplicity: an environmental masterpiece.

The halogen bulbs will be the next for the chop, but let’s hope that affordable, high intensity LED replacements will be available by then. I have rejected the halogen downlighters and kept a fluorescent tube in my kitchen. It might not be beautiful, but it’s effective and efficient.

I am steadily converting. I use led bulbs instead of the larger halogens 3W instead of 40w – the type with studs, haven’t found a replacement for the smaller halogens – the type with pins, I use a SAD bulb (high-wattage neons) just in one room where I need to read – I’m 54 so eyesight isn’t perfect.

Ken Rock says:
2 September 2011

The concept of saving energy is great but but why do government supporters take such a narrow view? Because my landing light is often switched on for several hours it makes sense to use a CFL; it would be ridiculous to use one in the exterior PIR lamp. And when deciding to ban traditional bulbs didn’t anyone consider the risks of mercury?

silverthread says:
2 September 2011

I do regret the passing of the 60W and 75W light bulbs but we are now so used to the CFLs that I have stopped worrying about it. For reading, we have a LED light. I am much more concerned about industrial estates and business parks installing blazing halogen lights that are blinding when we look out of the window and are lighting up the sky for miles around. No-one seems to be bothered about that.

Peter says:
2 September 2011

The whole house has slowly been changed to low energy bulbs and is now complete. Yes they take a fraction longer to brighten up, yes sometimes the equivalent wattage they claim is not quite right – but look at the consumption difference in a large house and there is no choice – the saving is significant.

Bumpma Shin says:
2 September 2011

The idea of conserving energy is admirable. However CFLs

– Don’t fit most of our enclosed light fittings
– Don’t seem to last much longer than incandescent
– Cost MUCH more
– Don’t give anywhere near the claimed amount of light, regardless of what the spec says
– and are full of Mercury

The imposed solution costs a fortune and doesn’t work. I’m unimpressed, and pretty tired of struggling to read after sundown.

JohnO says:
2 September 2011

I have no problem with changing over to energy saving light bulbs. I have found that as long as you don’t need instant, full light that they are more than adequate. It’s actually quite good for the bedroom in the morning!
My R80s, R63s, R50s and GU10s are a different matter, for two reasons. All of these required me to cut lovely holes in the ceilings, so unless an adequate replacement for all wattage and size combinations are produced they will have to go and I will have to replace the ceilings (or rather, I will have to pay someone to do it!). So far, not all my incandescent R80, R63 and R50 combinations are not available.

Cynic says:
2 September 2011

Lack of coherent research drives those who make such rules – they never seem to consider anything but the perceived immediate problem they believe they are about to solve. Too often they sit around dreaming up problems and then attempting to find solutions which, sadly, do not have much, if any, credibility in the real world. Sadly they never seem to have heard of the “Law of Unintehded Consequences”!

Ah well – at least they think they are working and it does keep the monthly salary cheque constantly coming in!

Colin says:
2 September 2011

The provlem is that the replacement light bulbs do not fit my light fittings. They stick above the upward facing shades on the wall fittings

snowy says:
2 September 2011

Currently have around 60 50w GU10 halogen ceiling lights around the house (not all switched on at the same time!) and I’m looking forward to replacing them with LED lights when the prices become more reasonable. However, I am yet to see LEDs at an acceptable price, and having visited a specialist store with an LED demonstration room (where one could compare the effect of the modern bulbs with their traditional counterparts) I know that most of those presently on sale would not offer an equivalent brightness. So playing a waiting game.

So-called energy saving light bulbs are a fraud. If the energy input cosy of making them is takien into account the traditioal carbon tungsten light bulb is much mor efficient and more voer gives a better light. On average two so-called energy light bulbs costing about £3 each are required to replace on 100w halogen bulb costing 90p. for the customer there is no payou and worse light.

Unfortunately this energy saving light bulb program is jusr antoher scam which benefits some small interst group but rips off the public just like gasohol

I never have liked energy saving bulbs. They are too white, too big and if you want to buy dimmable or tinted or really small ones they cost an arm and a leg. Because I use dimmers my old 60 watt light bulbs last for years and cost just 40pence each. I fail to see how this is saving money.

With dimmers you use the same or more electric.

Dave – I suggest that you try have a look at your electricity meter and you will see that the dial rotates faster when the light is brighter. Mine certainly does.

Dr John C. Newby says:
2 September 2011

My house was wired by the previous owner with a number of dimmer switches. Specifically the hall, the lounge and upstairs bedrooms all have dimmer switches. I understand that the energy efficient bulbs cannot be used with dimmer switches which either damage the bulbs, the dimmer switches, or both. For this reason I am buying up tungsten bulbs. I find the dimmers particularly useful when watching television and in the bedrooms. They are controlled remotely using a TV type remote control. What am I supposed to do?

A. Hill says:
2 September 2011

The EU ban on traditional bulbs makes a lot of sense in terms of energy saving and reduction in carbon emissions. It may be advisable to upgrade slightly the wattage of the energy saving bulbs to get the same lighting effect but this is no great problem and with the energy saving will not increase the amont spent on electricity. Many of the present eneregy saving bulbs are not slow to reach maximum brightness.

When CFL lamps can eficiently be used in all my circuits fitted with dimmers I may use them, till then I have stocked up with tungsten bulbs and should be able to last out for a decade. Most of my lighting is run on reduced dimming, giving me around the same consumption as CFL and prolonged bulb life to boot.
My eyes are a bit sensitive to bright light (radar damage in the 70s) to help explain the above.
The legislators don’t take into account the likes of me any more. I am a square peg that won’t fit into their dumbed down one size fits all round hole.

Steviewonders says:
2 September 2011

There should be a health warning and recycling instructions clearly on all packaging.
How do we dispose of these bulbs in an eco-friendly way when they contain mercury? DEFRA has given some advice below which shows how dangerous they are and how to dispose of them but why isn’t there a warning on every packet advising of the dangers and disposal process which starts with keep the packaging.
They have to be put back in their box and taken to a local specialist recycler which can be found at http://www.recycle-more.co.uk/. But what about the energy cost of going to the recycler – better cycle or walk!

Advice from DEFRA 2008
Vacate the room and ventilate it for at least 15 minutes. Do not use a vacuum cleaner, but clean up using rubber gloves and aim to avoid creating and inhaling airborne dust. Sweep up all particles and glass fragments and place in a plastic bag. Wipe the area with a damp cloth, then add that to the bag and seal it. Mercury is hazardous waste and the bag should not be disposed of in the bin. All local councils have an obligation to make arrangements for the disposal of hazardous household waste
So how should I recycle a CFL?

CFLs are classified as Waste Electrical or Electronic Equipment (WEEE); meaning that their manufacturers and importers are required to pay for CFL treatment and recycling (for more on the WEEE Directive, see Chemistry World, June 2007, p44). Defra says that any retailer selling a CFL bulb either has to take back a waste one, or advise on how to take it to a ‘Designated Collection Facilities’ set up for the purpose. There are over 1400 DCFs in the UK.

Can this fledgling recycling system cope with vastly increased numbers of CFLs, though? According to Defra, ‘appropriate handling and disposal is not difficult, and what is now a relatively new disposal system will become more fully developed.’

special k says:
2 September 2011

This concern about mercury scared me into sticking with the traditional bulbs as long as pos.

I much prefer the old type lights as they gave a much brighter light. JUs another case of us being dictated to by Europe & a nany state.

I am not sad to see 60 watt incandescent bulbs go but disappointed that excellent alterntives are not yet available. All incandescent bulbs are very inefficient in using precious energy and we all need to reduce our carbon footprints. The equivalent low energy bulbs are not as bright, cost more, contain some toxic materials and often take a longer time to reach their maximum level of illumination. More research is needed to develop a range of low energy bulbs which will meet all the other advantages of incandescent bulbs.

So why?, oh why? are you NOT SAD to see 60watt incandescent bulbs go?

Do you think that the “precious energy” the new technology light bulb avoids consuming is not being replaced by an equal quantity of “precious energy” that your heating system is providing? (if not, your house would run colder) ….. saving precisely NO “precious energy” at all …. apart from a small period in the summer months when the heating system is not required

You point out very correctly that there are not adequate replacements ….. and that more research is needed to come up with a replacement. You should therefore be VERY SAD indeed ……or like me, VERY ANGRY at our political class who impose such nonsense on us.

The next bit of nonsense scheduled to our doorsteps is the great and glorious SMART METER.