Australia Moves To Fluorescents

Little girls across Australia are crying because they will no longer be able to cook those tasty tiny cakes in their EZ Bake ovens.

In an effort to reduce GHGs the government has decided to phase out incandescent bulbs over the next three years.

Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull this morning announced standard incandescent light bulbs would be phased out within three years in a bid to reduce energy consumption.

“We are introducing new energy efficiency standards and these old lights simply won’t comply, they will be phased out and basically over a period of time they will no longer be for sale,” Mr Turnbull said.

Compact fluorescent or low-wattage bulbs cost about $5 more, but are more energy-efficient and save an average of $30 per year.

“They’ll be a bit dearer to start off with but over time they’ll be less expensive and they’ll last four to 10 times longer,” said Mr Howard.

This type of plan makes sense to me because the ban will be on selling the bulbs, as opposed to using them, as there will always be a few who want to use up their old bulbs even though the math works out that you are better off financially if you switch over right away.

But to me the big reason a move like this is good is because it drives volume way up on a product and when that happens, economies of scale kick in. This means that as more nations move towards a 100% fluorescent market, the cost of the bulbs will drop which will make it easier for households with tighter budgets to take part. When I went to switch most of my bulbs over three or four years ago, the cost of the fluorescents was not $5 more but 5 times more.

Technically, this move will produce a bit less heat in the winters which will put more strain on furnaces, but there is a doubly good benefit in the summers when the Air Conditioners will need to operate a bit less to cool off the added heat and the power savings of these bulbs will reduce the strain on power grids that tend to hit capacity on the hottest days due to Air Conditioner usage. It may seem paltry at a one home level, but when you look at 5 million homes or 10 million homes, this idea has it’s merits.

14 thoughts on “Australia Moves To Fluorescents

  • February 21, 2007 at 9:29 am

    Sounds good but as a person who is interested in the quality and colour of light, real or artificial, I do hope they work on improving the light cast by those bulbs because I find it ugly. Maybe they could alter the colour with the glass or something.

    Anything that works ro reduce consumption is good – at least until problems created by fluorescents emerge. :>}

  • February 21, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Oh, and they don’t use light bulbs in EasyBake ovens anymore, they’ve moved to a heating element (which is why they had to recall them all because kids were burning themselves…..)….


  • February 21, 2007 at 11:24 am

    I use fluorescent bulbs in the house using 15W bulbs replacing 60W incandescent, however if used in a cold room they can remain dim for a few minutes while they warm up, and don’t kid yourself that they last for years, I have had to replace a hand full within the year of install. No good outside in a Canadian winter either!

  • February 21, 2007 at 11:33 am

    I hope they will have a more reliable design for the bulbs than at present. We have them in our (newish) condo building corridors and they frequently ‘burn out’ and cause acrid smoke in the process; this triggers the fire alarms and the fire trucks come a callin’ . . . the situation is so bad I understand the fixtures are to be replaced with old-fashioned bulbs using motion detectors over the next year.

    Sophisticated motion detector/sensor-triggered systems are viable in most settings like corridors, stairwells and lobbies: in most cases the energy savings range from 85 – 90%, with no loss of lighting quality.

  • February 21, 2007 at 11:37 am

    If one wants to look for problems with CFBs, there is a small amount of mercury in CFBs (More info here).

    Would having millions more of these hit landfills cause more problems than a bit of wasted electricity?

    And no I don’t think most people will recycle them.

  • February 21, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Fluorescents are OK, but do have their drawbacks – as noted in #3 above. A newer technology is LED which is used in portable lighting, Christmas lights, and now in traffic signals. LEDs use substantially less power than even fluorescents and provide dramatically greater illumination. A drawback at the moment is the difficulty in retrofitting into existing fixtures.

  • February 21, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Caveat (#1) I think they have different coatings offered now to be more like incandescents if you want.

    JCL (#2) thanks. Good to know little girls in Australia can still bake up a good cake!!

    BobbyG (#3) The fluorescent coil i have outside above my garage has been going for 3 or 4 years now and I live in Ottawa. Lots of -20 to -40C days here.

    Ben, (#4) can you elabourate? I have not had any burn out that produced acrid smoke of any kind. They just don’t glow, similar to long fluorescent tubes.

    DC in YOW (#5) thanks for the mercury info. I didn’t know that. I wonder how this is affected by the new Conservative mercury clean up plans.

    EH in YYC – I work in high tech and yes, superbright LED lights are quite amazing in their luminescence, durability and low power consumption.

  • February 21, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Australian blogger Jonathan Lowe does some number crunching on what the switch to flourescents will do to reduce ghg emissions:

    So best case scenario, we’ll save 4 million tons of greenhouse gas by 2012. Lets assume that 100% of recent warming is caused by the deadly gas, and given that Australia’s greenhouse gas output is 1.6% of the worlds, and that we have seen an increase in 0.6 degrees in the last century this will mean that banning these light globes will make the world on average

    0.0000012 degrees cooler per year.

    Keeping in mind that this is a best case scenario. I can almost feel a chill in the air right now.

    There are issues with compact flourescents too.

    Gust of Hot Air

  • February 21, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Bill, I have always been a proponent of clean energy. But to give you an analogy. When I discovered low fat cream cheese that tasted pretty decent, it meant I could put twice as much on my bagel.

    Finding light bulbs that burn a fifth of the power means I can not stress over lights left on by the kids for hours on end for no reason.


  • February 21, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    Don’t get me wrong. I have a number of these compact fluorescent bulbs in my house. Why? because they use less energy than traditional bulbs, so it would seem that they are cheaper in the long run.

    But at the same time, they are not going to do much to reduce ghg, especially if we tend to leave them on longer. Then there’s the mercury issue.

    The new LED technology looks promising.

  • February 22, 2007 at 11:12 am

    While this one little change has very little impact on its own, it’s the cummulative global efforts that will change energy consumption as a whole. I wonder what the calculated effects on climate change would be if the entire world switched to fluorescent bulbs? And hybrid cars or cleaner-burning fuels like ethanol? And had more energy efficient homes (windows, insulation, appliances etc etc).

    Criticizing a step in the right direction (even if it is a fraction of a baby step) is what got us in this mess to begin with….

  • February 22, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    It isn’t always about cost. There are health issues associated with fluorescent lighting, but I do have fluorescent tubes in my offices and in my kitchen. I have the compact bulbs in all the outside lights and in a mudroom and a stairwell, but the upshot is that I cannot tolerate the color or the light emanating from the compact bulbs in any lamp or fixture near me or in a location that I’m not just passing through.

  • February 22, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    The province of Ontario Canada is also considering phasing out incandescent bulbs. The premier of Ontario claims that if all Ontarians make the switch, then enough energy will be saved per year that one of our COAL FIRED energy plants will be shut down. To me that’s enough convincing to want to make the switch.

  • February 22, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Knowing how the enviro-activists work, I fully anticipate they’ll be screaming over compact fluorescent bulbs next… then they’ll be screaming over LEDs. They won’t be happy until we’re all living in caves again.

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