EurActiv - Letters to the Editor


Regarding your article ‘EU to switch off traditional light bulbs by 2012‘:

I try to be as green as the next person and understand the need to reduce the use of incandescent and halogen light bulbs. But has anyone else had the difficulties I have encountered while reading by these newer so-called efficient light bulbs?

I have purchased these over the past decade or more but still find them amazingly expensive and hard to read by. I am tempted to start stockpiling the old but amazingly cheap bulbs to ensure that I can continue to read the back pages of the financial press about how my savings are shrinking during my potential retirement beyond 2012.

Patrick Ritson

Author :


  1. Sir,

    The European Union’s decision to mandate the retirement of incandescent light bulbs (‘EU to switch off traditional light bulbs by 2012‘) is poorly thought through and will do little to reduce residential carbon emissions. Artificial light is used most in winter, when the days are short. This is also the time when households and offices turn on their heating. The more incandescent bulbs are used, the less heat a furnace will need to produce. The heat generated by these bulbs is therefore not wasted and should not be treated as a waste.

    Indeed, in countries like Austria or France whose electricity supply is already broadly de-carbonized, the overall environmental performance of these bulbs exceeds that of low-energy ones even in summer.

    This is because unlike incandescents, low energy bulbs will saddle the continent with higher waste disposal costs and rising pollution from the heavy metals, plastics and other components they contain. Recycling efforts are variable across our continent, and millions of these bulbs are likely to end up in landfills or incinerators. The recycling process, where it happens, is in itself energy intensive.

    I, for one, will be stockpiling enough of the old incandescents to last me decades before they are retired.

    Patrick Worms
    33 rue du Progrès
    1410 Waterloo

  2. Sir,

    Regarding Mr Ritson’s difficulties to read, perhaps he could consider trying white led bulbs? These are even more energy efficient than the traditional energy saving bulbs (compact fluorescent lamps (CFL)) and ideal for reading. Best of all, Mr Ritson can spend his retirement without having to change a single light bulb again, since these can last up 50.000 hours.

    Mikael Kekkonen

  3. Claims for light output similarity with the older bulbs have been exaggerated – especially for the CFLs which have a bulb similar to the old shape. The bare tube “stick” type are better but have a different light distribution, pushing light into the shade, and giving lower levels of light below. If you were used to the light of a 60W, you would find more acceptable light levels with a 20W CFL, rather than the recommended 11W, and still make a big energy saving. There are now on the market spiral tube designs from GE, Osram and Philips which give better light outputs and distribution, while being quite short. Make sure your shade will either reflect light in a useful direction, or at least allow most of the light to pass through. Look at the packs for situations where they can’t be used, before you buy
    CFLs don’t save as much carbon dioxide as has been claimed, because of lower power factor, but that’s another story.

  4. It is apparent from reading many of the comments concerning energy efficiency that the Intelligent Energy Programme of the EU must take notice of these issues that consumers bring up in their daily efforts to use efficient technology. It is up to this programme, and others within the EU to help all citizens of the EU understand the technology better and how to use the new technologies to best effect. Otherwise, such things as the new flourescent replacement lamps for the incancdescent bulbs will not be used and the incandenscents will be bought from somewhere else.

  5. Mr Ritson might consider using LEDs as suggested by Mikael Kekkonen. He might also consider simply using more efficient halogen bulbs, which are permitted under the Commission proposal.
    These halogen bulbs emit the same light quality (and are based on the same technology) as the traditional energy wasting incadescent bulbs but are twice as efficient.
    Stockpiling energy-wasting bulbs will mean paying over the odds on his energy bill for years to come. His choice though.

  6. If people buy cheap bulbs and don’t even check what is the appropriate, of course they are going to have problems in seeing! So Recent Fluorescent Light bulbs produce more sufficient lighting for a household.

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