Incandescent ban

Ban the bulb

Seems like Malcolm Turnbull is considering banning incandescent light bulbs (more at

I think this is a great move that will not only benefit the environment, but will also reduce the cost of the bulbs as sales volume increases. (I also love the fact it’s front page news, and the top news item on Google News today. Brilliant!)

The Sydney Morning Herald has a great image that compares the two types of bulbs. What I love about the picture is that it compares the cost of 6 incandescent bulbs with one CFL – which is a much fairer cost comparison as the life of a CFL is much longer.

At a total cost of more than 6 times, and CO2 emissions of roughly the same proportion, the incandescents simply don’t stack up.

Of course, there’s no need to wait for government intervention – you can get CFLs on the shelf today.

(I also hope that CFL manufacturers ditch the plastic blister packs (which are annoying to open) and replace them with more conventional and easier to handle packaging…)

A couple of further thoughts – I agree with some of the comments I’ve read that it doesn’t take a lot of political will to do what Turnbull is suggesting. And that a lot more is needed. But it’s a great first step.

To put the announcement into perspective. From what I understand, lighting accounts for between 5% and 10% of all household emissions. That means that more than 90% of a households emissions still need to be addressed. Still a 5-7% gain in efficiency in a household is a big step forward and should be supported.

Hot water, which Turnbull is reportedly also targeting for efficiency measures, accounts for around 25-30%, which will have an even bigger impact.

Ultimately, however, the energy industry needs an overhaul to make the big difference required. As I’ve stated before, energy efficiency will play a big part in allowing that to happen.

(Image thanks to Lighter Footstep)

  • I think another reason CFL’s haven’t taken off is due to their ugliness. People seem to use them more in lamps where a lampshade can be used to hide them, an ugly twisty pseudo-fluro hanging out of your ceiling just doesn’t cut it. Hopefully this initiative will give CFL manufacturers encouragement into designing aesthetically pleasing bulbs.

  • I personally don’t mind the look of them – and in many cases people have light shades already, so this is a non issue. How many exposed lights do you have in your house?

    I have seen some CFLs at Ikea that have a frosted plastic surround to make them look like standard bulbs, which works quite well. Of course, as soon as you put anything in front of the bulb (and this goes for incandescents too) you are wasting light energy. But that’s beside the point.

    I suppose my last response would be a friendly “get over it” 😉 We’re in deep shit with global warming – I think we can, nay must, live with them not looking as “beautiful” so we can actually make a difference in reducing emissions.

  • 22 exposed lights actually. 5 sets of small cluster lights.

    “I think we can, nay must, live with them not looking as “beautifulâ€? so we can actually make a difference in reducing emissions.”

    I agree, I was simply putting forward a possible reason why people haven’t taken to CFLs en masse previously. I’ve been to plenty of homes (usually modern , trendy ones with minimalist themes) where a ceiling wart would completely ruin the look of a room. Aesthetics are important to many people, insane as it may be, and play an enormous part in purchasing anything, including light-bulbs. All I’m saying is that CFL manufacturers can help, if not speed up even, the process by somehow designing bulbs that are aesthetically pleasing to consumers. This is no different to the ‘green’ car industry designing engines that are clean but have enough grunt to satisfy the rev-heads.

    For the record, we use a mixture of CFL and incadescent bulbs in this house.

  • Wow – that’s a lot of lights!

    Thanks for your response – after I posted I realised that I probably sounded a bit narky/terse which wasn’t my intention, but alas, here we are. Sorry…

    I was never a big fan of the long, flat tubular CFLs, but really don’t mind the spiral/round ones that are coming out now – which I assume are the “twisty pseudo-fluro” ones you’re referring to. Plus the old ones with the plain-white and blue-white light were really horrible to live with, but the current “warm white” ones are much nicer. I think that’s a sign of the improvements that are coming.

    I do see your point about how some people would avoid them for aesthetic reasons though. However, I’m not sure that manufacturers can do a lot about it. The very nature of compact fluoros means they need to be tubular, and that the light comes from the edges of those tubes. That necessitates the spiral designs to get enough light out of the bulb to match the lumens (light intensity) of incandescents.

    As soon as you put something in front of that, to diffuse the light or to make it more aesthetically pleasing, you reduce the effectiveness of the bulb, thereby requiring more power to produce the same amount of light. I suspect that’s why CFLs have ended up as they are.

    That said, I’ve seen pictures of CFLs within a glass exterior that matches the incandescents for look – except instead of a filament, there’s the CFL tube. And other light technologies, like LEDs, may come to the rescue. Again of seen pictures of LED clusters behind a frosted exterior that look pretty nice. LEDs and CFLs can also be fitted into downlight housings as well, which provides yet more choice.

    Regardless, your point about giving “CFL manufacturers encouragement”, not only for aesthetics, but for other improvements as well, is right on the money. I think the costs will come down, and the market will explode because of new innovations and ideas being tried out. Looking forward to the day 🙂

  • Yes, 22, I only realised the amount of exposed lights when I counted them. The bulk of them are 4 small lights on a beam (all silver and trendy) where the bulbs are actually part of the design and the current crop of CFLs (at least those I’ve seen) would really look disgusting. But I agree, this initiative will hopefully spark some innovation by lighting manufacturers. Btw, just to clarify, those 22 incandescent aren’t used often, the lamp shade covered CFLs provide most of the illumination in our house. 🙂

  • Aaaahhh… lightbulbs; practical little buggers which nobody really cares about or looks at usually but you guys have proved me wrong 🙂

    Now you’ve made me think… I have 8 (and yes, they’re all twisto-psycho numbers).

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