Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Light Bulb Ban Starts Today

The door is closing on incandescent light bulbs.  As of today manufacturers can no longer supply the Canadian market with 75- and 100-watt bulbs.  Retailers will be permitted to sell their remaining stocks but, after that, it's compact fluorescent or LED for you and for me.

40- and 60-watt incandescent bulbs will be around for one more year.

Incandescents are being banned because they're energy inefficient.


crf said...

It would be much better to add a tax to incandescents, rather than ban them.

It's a bit late now. But this ban is a bad idea on so many levels.

For a start, it will save zero energy at all whenever anyone has the heater on (eg, winter, spring and fall). The heat that would have been given off by the incandescent will now be replaced by those sources (which may have a higher GHG footprint per unit heat produced). Rather than admit that fact of thermodynamics, public relations-types at utilities try to bafflegab their way around it in a way that shouldn't impress anyone who passed grade 9 physics.

Another problem is that that CFL bulbs are dim. People who want a good light badly enough should be able to buy an incandescent and pay for that sin through a tax. Such a tax would also encourage people to switch to energy efficient bulbs more often by offsetting some of the upfront price difference between the different styles of bulbs.

A ban on the competition also means there is less incentive to improve the performance of energy efficient bulbs. If people were to keep on buying incandescents despite having additional taxes on them, it would tell manufacturers of energy efficient bulbs that they really need to up their game. Instead, under current policy, there is little incentive to improve the (fairly lame) performance of energy efficient bulbs.

The last problem is a public relations one. Everyone, bar the religiously committed environmentalists, is going to be annoyed at this ban. It is going to sour them on making more the difficult commitments that are going to be needed to combat climate change.

We'd be doing much more good if we shipped most of these bulbs to India, Haiti or Kenya and other poor countries in hot climates. People there often wouldn't be able to afford the upfront cost of these new bulbs, and yet would also have trouble affording the electricity to run inefficient incandescents. In hot places, the heat given off by incandescents is unwanted. And electricity in poor countries has a much higher carbon footprint, generally, than in Canada, and is often supply constrained.

crf said...

Stuff like this is fodder for the Tony Abbott's of this world. (Or perhaps an example of what David Cameron might call "green crap".)

The Mound of Sound said...

It's going to be problematic, Chris, no question. I'm not looking forward to having to buy two or three dozen LEDs. Like you, I'm no fan of CFLs and I have tried them.

rumleyfips said...

Dim bulb CRF look in a mirror. in the summer , when it gets warm,( stop me if I'm getting too technical) resistance light bulbs add heat to buildings and cooling costs skyrocket.

Low wattage CFL bulbs produce less light than higher wattage CFL bulf. Isn't physics a bitch.

We use some CFL bulbs ( @$2.00) and a lot of LEDS (@3.00) and see just fine Our electricity dropped 20% and our house is cooler in the summer.

Nice try.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hey, Rumley, chill out. Disagree with CRF as much as you like but don't make it personal.

Purple library guy said...

Factually, though, I'm certainly with Rumleyfips. I don't like compact fluorescents much, but they're like incandescents: They come in models that give a little bit of light or a lot of light. You want a lot of light, buy the "a lot of light" kind. The way they're defined as saving energy relative to incandescents is per unit of light put out, like a 2000 lumen CF bulb uses like 1/3rd as much power as a 2000 lumen incandescent.

The Mound of Sound said...

I think I'm just going to bite the bullet and start going for the LED option.

crf said...

Rumleyflips. Yes, you are partially right. In summer, heat from incandescents is unwanted. But that's 1/4 of the year, (at most) in Canada. 3/4's of the time, you'll be running the heaters.

If you look at the issue more closely though, the biggest problem with incandescent heat would not be in people's homes, but in office and commercial buildings. And they already use florescent lighting for the most part, and have complicated HVAC systems. So this discussion is moot for commercial buildings.

And Rumleyflips: do you cool and warm and with electricity? That was one of my points: if you use electricity to heat, switching from incandescent to CFL will save you energy only in the summer, when you're heater is off. If you use gas to heat, switching to a CFL will cause you to burn more gas during the winter, to make up the lost energy that would have been released by the incandescents. In Ontario, Quebec or B.C, the extra gas burnt would have a higher carbon footprint than the electrically driven heat of the incandescent.

Purple library guy said...

We've been trying to substitute LEDs gradually, 'cause they're such a bleeding bite in the paycheck. We buy one or two, use them on the lights that are on the most. Then one or two more. Over time we've replaced a good proportion.

You have to watch out though. The light from the dang things varies; some are "cool white" some are this white some are that white. Keeping track of which kind we like the light from OK is a pain.

I will say this much: The lifespan thing seems to be real. Now and then CF bulbs go wonky, but I don't think we've replaced an LED light yet.

kootcoot said...

I always considered the heat give off by incadescent bulbs to be of value, from adding heat in the majority of the year some is needed in Canada to speciallized tasks such as providing the only heat and air flow to dry fruit, make fruit leather etc. in an inexpensive homemade food drier. Then I've used simple light bulbs to protect houseplants in winter when away for a while or to keep baby chicks or rabbits warm.

Actually the plans for the food drier suggested using a brood lamp, but a 75-100 incandescent was more than adequate the other might have been too much!

as to RumleySnark

"Dim bulb CRF look in a mirror. in the summer , when it gets warm,( stop me if I'm getting too technical) resistance light bulbs add heat to buildings and cooling costs skyrocket."

Did you perhaps forget to turn your lights OFF during 16 to 20 hours of daylight, the best light by far for most things. Summers have short nights and few hours of darkness.

I'm reminded of when my electrical contractor and I were collaborating on the wiring plan for my three story home. He had this trippy plan involving three way switches that allowed a climber (shades of Big Bang the comedy show)to ascend to the top floor (mommy/daddy suite) turning lights on ahead and off behind.

Since the top run of stairs had 14" by 4 foot glass between studs on one side of the stairwell, with a matching run and rise, I questioned the need for the big light at the top of this flight of stairs.

My electrician brought me back to reality by suggesting I might be going up those stairs at night...after all at the top was our bedroom..

Joe the Lion said...

The initial investment in LED lighting is intimidating for precariats like my partner and I. We have CFLs in areas like the basement and other spots where the quality of light is irrelevant. However, our kitchen is rather dark and 100 watt incandescents are the only lights that make it bright enough to work in. I've been looking at LEDs for the kitchen and I'm going to hold out until the Cree 75 watt or Switch 100 LEDs are available in Canada, which gives me some time to save up the money to buy them.

That said, if the Gods of Government can ban affordable incandescent lightbulbs, then why can't they force the manufacturers to reduce the LED price tag during the transition? 50% off for a few months would certainly help the precariat make the adjustment without sacrificing food for light.