Another ten days, and the sale of traditional light bulbs will no longer be allowed in the European Union. This to save energy and protect the environment, so tell us the environmentalistas.
And of course no sane person would argue against this law. After all, saving energy means saving the environment means saving the planet and the human race!
Well, maybe not really. I think the politicians are (as usual) barking up all the wrong trees.
How much energy do you save by switching from a traditional to a low-watt bulb? A traditional 60-Watt bulb uses roughly 380 kWh per year – that is, if you let it burn constantly, day and night! An 8-Watt bulb only uses 50 kWh per year. Assuming that you leave the light on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you save roughly the energy used to power an old refrigerator, or two modern fridges of energy class A+.
Furthermore, the assumption that you leave a 60-Watt bulb on all day and night is spurious, to say the least. But I have found that many people are less hesitant to leave a low-watt bulb on around the clock, and around the calendar. “Hey, it’s just a low-watt bulb, it doesn’t use that much electricity anyway!” In other words, the attempt to save energy may well even lead to less energy-conscious habits.
The claim that low-watt bulbs are “environmentally friendly” becomes even more spurious when you consider that they contain mercury, a highly poisonous heavy metal which is fluid and emits vapors at normal room temperatures. Break an old light bulb and you pick up the shards. Break a new light bulb and you may have to clean the carpet, air the room and take your kids to the ER.
The new bulbs can’t be disposed of with your normal household trash; they are too dangerous and have to be disposed of with other electric or electronic waste. Which of course everybody will remember to do, yes sir!
But of course, and I also believe in the Tooth Fairy! 😉
Low-watt bulbs are more expensive than traditional bulbs but at least they last longer. Up to ten times longer, so they tell me. Maybe I’m just an unlucky guy but my experience is that the new, expensive bulbs last about as long as traditional light bulbs. Meaning that I pay four or five times as much for lighting my home, and just have to hope that electricity has become so expensive that my electricity savings make up for the loss on light bulb expenses.
I will not even get into the fact that the new bulbs give off a less natural light, or that they often take forever to “warm up” before they give off enough light (causing a risk that your frail, old grandmother will fall and break her hip)!
(Hey wait, didn’t I just get into all that?)
I will just conclude that if you want to save energy and protect the environment, you should leave your old light bulbs where they are and instead replace your old fridge and oven – this will save you much more energy without the risk of getting mercury in your living room carpet.
So why are politicians so eager to force people to use the new, expensive, not-that-long-lived, and potentially dangerous bulbs? Not to save the planet for sure, politicians rarely care about that. I suspect the real reason is that producers of expensive, “environmentally friendly”, short-lived low-watt bulbs complete with heavy metals have lobbied the EU to force us to use their expensive product, and that the poor “environment” is just the buzz words used to ram their new and not-so-improved light bulbs down our throats!
By the way, any insinuations that politicians may also be “Low-watt bulbs” in the figurative sense are absolutely intentional. 😉