Selfish, Uninformed Europeans Hoarding Incandescents as Ban on 100 Watt Bulbs Takes Effect Today

Memo to Michele Bachmann: 100 Watt lightbulbs are banned in the European Union as of today. Shoppers are storming the stores to gather up the last supplies of this soon to be extinct object of desire. No wonder we need a Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act like you proposed last year.

Germans appear to be the biggest hoarders; according to Reuters, some German retailers said they have seen sales of 100-watt incandescent bulbs soar 600 percent since the end of July. The Business insider suggests that "Next time you travel to Germany bring a case of 100-watt bulbs. You won't have to spend a single dollar. You can use them to barter for other goods."No matter that there is very good reason to ban the bulbs:

The EU Commission projects the ban on the energy-inefficient bulbs will save about 40 terawatt hours of energy in the EU per year -- enough to meet the energy demands of a small country.

Six Reasons Commenters will write in to complain about this post:

1) Compact Fluorescents have Mercury in them, and that's bad for the environment

Mercury is bad stuff when it gets into the environment, but the main source of environmental mercury is from coal burning power plants. As Pablo showed in Should I Worry About Deadly Mercury In My CFLs?,

Over 5 years (the life of a CFL) it may be responsible for 2.4mg of smokestack mercury emissions, so a total of 6.4mg of mercury over the life of the bulb. By comparison the incandescent bulb is responsible for almost 10mg of mercury emissions over 5 years. But CFLs can be recycled to recapture the mercury. Smokestack emissions can not be recaptured after they enter the atmosphere.

2) If you break a bulb you will need to call a Hazmat Team to clean it up.

The two to five milligrams of mercury (smaller than the nib on a ballpoint pen) will evaporate quickly; open the windows and ventilate the room. See Ask TreeHugger: Is Mercury from a Broken CFL Dangerous?

3) Incandescents put out useful heat in some parts of the country.

Electricity is a very expensive way to heat, and the bulbs are not putting out the heat where you need it. Even if this were not the case, it is only true for half the year. More: Study Shows Incandescent Bulbs Are Warm and Toasty

4) I don't like the quality of the light.

The Energy Saving Trust in the UK set up a sort of Pepsi challenge to see if people really could tell them apart. Smart Planet reports "Although 70 per cent of the 761 shoppers that were asked to step inside the booths thought they could spot the difference, 53 per cent got it wrong or admitted they couldn't see any difference. A whopping 64 per cent of the guinea pigs said they preferred the light in booth A, which was in fact the energy-saving lightbulb.Last Post Ever on Compact Fluorescents, It's Settled

5) I am waiting for LEDs.

So am I. But right now most have lousy colour balance, are not bright enough and are still very expensive. They have a long way to go before they will be competitive. Meanwhile, if you wait five years for them, you will have paid a lot for electricity, contributed a lot of CO2 and added 3.6 milligrams of mercury to the environment.

6. They give me headaches.

Um, join the line and stock up on incandescents, and hope that LEDs are available before you run out. Or, try different brands; some people react differently to different types.

Tags: Energy | Lighting


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