The Not So Great Lightbulb Swindle
New Labour and other posturing elements in the European Union have taken it upon themselves to ban the incandescent light bulb in 2009 in the name of saving the planet.
What are we talking about?
Out will go the familiar Standard Incandescent Bulb (SIB), the elongated, pearl or plain globes with a coiled tungsten filament. In will come the Compact Fluorescent Bulb (CFB), the much-folded tubes with an internal, white coating (like the one shown on the right -->).
What are we supposed to get out of the deal?
A reduction in carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, a reduction in domestic fuel bills and an end to any global warming caused by human intervention.
But is this going to happen?
How do the Standard Incandescent Bulb and Compact Fluorescent Bulb compare?
The CFB isn't compact it's larger, and a lot heavier, than an SIB.
CFBs won't fit into over 50% of domestic light fittings, a survey by the Market Transformation Programme of Defra found in 2006.
Making a CFB uses 10 times more energy than making an SIB.
CFBs cost 10 times more than SIBs in the shops.
CFBs can't be used with dimmer switches or as electronically triggered security lights.
An SIB comes on instantly; CFBs can take time to 'warm up'.
CFBs will work only between -20 deg.C and +60 deg.C, so they can't be used in freezers, ovens and microwaves, where the temperature can become too cold, or too hot, for them to operate.
SIBs produce a steady light, CFBs produce pulses of lights at the frequency of mains electricity, i.e. 50 cycles per second. Some people find this 50 Hz flicker causes irritation and headaches, and thanks to the stroboscopic effect, a CFB can make machinery rotating at 50 revolutions per second appear to be stationary, which could be a hazard to life & limb and the source of compensation claims against the EU.
Dead CFBs are a lot more expensive to get rid of than SIBs. SIBs can be sent quite legally to a landfill site, CFBs contain trace amounts of mercury to make them work and under EU rules, dumping objects containing mercury in a landfill site is a criminal offence. So dead CFBs have to be subjected to a costly recycling process.
CFBs are nowhere near as bright as the packaging claims. German prime minister Angela Merkel was in trouble almost as soon as the ban was announced when she complained that she can never find something she drops onto the floor in the dim fog of her CFBs.
The product example shown in the picture above claims that a 20 Watt CFB is the equivalent of a 100 Watt SIB. This is not true. The average CFBs is 4 times more effective than SIBs in converting electricity to light, so a 25W CFB is the equivalent of a 100W SIB.
Where the wheels come off the politicians' story
The Osram bulb shown above claims a life of 12 years with an average of 3 hours' use per day. "In your dreams!" reply experienced consumers of CFBs. The average CFB won't last anywhere near the lifetime claimed on the packet.
Worse, the CFB has a fatal flaw.
Screwed if you do, screwed if you don't!
We are constantly urged to switch lights off when they are not needed to save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power stations. But doing this to a CFB shortens its life. The only way to get any benefit from them is to leave them on all the time. Which makes rather a mockery of any hope of saving on energy consumption!
The bottom line
So where does this leave the poor old consumer who has to switch from incandescent to fluorescent bulbs? He or she will end up paying 10 times more for an inferior, dimmer product which will produce no savings in running costs and a nett increase in the amount of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere by the manufacturing process, the power stations which keeps the bulbs lit and the recyling process for dead CFBs.
But the political dimwits at the EU evidently didn't bother to think things through before they did their collective knee-jerk.
And what about all these Chinese coal-fired power stations which are going to produce enough carbon dioxide to make even a total ban on carbon dioxide emissions from Europe totally irrelevant?
And what about the overwhelming evidence that the whole of the solar system is getting warmer at the moment, even planets where there are no humans generating carbon dioxide, and the whole carbon dioxide thing is a scam?
Is this yet more sleaze?
The Labour party has a long and sleazy history of taking bungs in return for legislation. The exemption of Formula One from a ban on tobacco advertising after a £1 million donation to the party is a typical example. (Yes, this bung had to be repaid but F1 still got the exemption. Ed.)
Could it be that the manufacturers of CFBs have been busy behind the scenes in Britain, France and Germany? Because a ban on SIBs makes no sense in any context other than either some serious bunging has been going on in the notoriously corrupt European Union or the gesture politics has reached a new level of insanity.