Say Goodbye to Lightbulbs As You Know Them

Last month, in an attempt to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the Australian government announced that it will begin a nationwide phase out of incandescent light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs, introduced more than 125 years ago, convert the majority of used energy to heat rather then light. In view of this, Australian environment minister, Malcolm Turnbull, plans to work with the states to ban incandescent bulbs by 2010. Which means, in about three years from now, lightbulbs that do not meet energy efficiency standards will no longer be available for sale in Australia. Some exceptions include: medical lighting and oven lights.

Switching to the more energy efficient fluorescent light would cut Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by four million tons a year, by 2015 . Fluorescent bulbs also last 4 to 10 times longer and waste less energy. The Rocky Mountain Institute claims that the average life of a 75-watt incandescent bulb is roughly 750 hours, while the life of a fluorescent bulb is 10,000 hours. So they may cost more initially, but they should pay for themselves over and over again. See Chart Here

Is Australia the first with the idea? Australia is the first national government to ban traditional lightbulbs, but California proposed a similar project in January. New Jersey plans to switch to fluorescent lighting in government buildings within three years. In Canada, quickly expanding from it base at Ottawa, Ontario, Project Porchlight is growing very popular. Two years ago Cuba's Fidel Castro switched lightbulbs in homes in neighborhoods around Cuba in an attempt to battle blackouts. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez soon followed in Castro's steps with his own program, giving away fluorescent light bulbs in homes nationwide.

Some environmentalists feel switching to fluorescent lightsbulbs is a good start, but not enough to make a difference. They feel more significant measures need to be made, since most of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions come from industry, such as coal-fired power stations, but switching lightbulbs isn't all of what Australia has done or is planning to do. Take a look at other environmental projects Australia is already working on here.

What do you think? Do you believe it is the government's responsibility to mandate what type of lighting we should use? Do you think switching lightbulbs is a waste of time? Should other states and countries follow suit? Will you switch? Have you switched?

Note: Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs contain a small amount of mercury, and should not be sent to the landfill. Please recycle your bulb at the county's disposal facility. More on fluorescent lightbulbs here.

Gloria Campos-Hensley
Featured Blogger

May 2, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

New Light Bulb

Just wanted to add a comment that the new light bulbs contain mercury.  What will be the cost to safely dispose of the new bulbs.  My recommendation is that at the end of the bulb's useful life, the be returned to the manufacturer.