The Canadian Federal Government Bans Incandescent Bulbs
Starting 01 January 2014, there is a ban on standard incandescent light bulbs with an output of 75W and 100W. I had totally forgotten about this, since the discussions were seven years ago. But now I see that this is still set to take effect in the new year. 40W and 60W are set to be off the shelves by the end of 2014.
The goal is to displace the use of incandescent bulbs with the more expensive compact fluorescent CFL bulbs. This is still the direction that they are going, even though there is still much controversy on their efficiency claims, bulb life expectancy, and disposal concerns (these bulbs contain Mercury).
Personally, I feel there is a place in the house for both CFL bulbs and traditional incandescent. I’m not an opponent of energy efficiency or protecting the environment. But sometimes we are blind by trying to optimize for only one variable.
My go-to source for information on this has been a recent Globe & Mail Article: Federal Incandescent Light Bulb Ban Set to Start in New Year
What they are hoping to accomplish
The goal of all this is to make our homes, offices, and workshops more efficient.
They believe that the increased efficiency of these bulbs will reduce the power consumption needed for lighting our homes. Never mind the fact that they old bulbs contributed somewhat the the heating of our homes in fall, winter, and spring – whenever we actually needed heating.
I guess the bright side of this is that if we do embrace CFL bulbs AND energy self-reliance, it will be easier to accomplish this goal of not being reliant on the grid for power. If our lighting loads are lower, then it is much easier to run our lighting off of a battery bank with inverter. Of course, this means that we will be burring more oil, natural gas, or wood for our heat. I wonder if that was factored into the equation.
As with many initiatives in this area, they are able to make the goals of this program look noble. However, as is typical, the devil is in the details. There are legitimate concerns over the safety, efficiency, and durability claims of the bulbs they are
The reality of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
Yes they are more efficient in terms of amount of light emitted vs electrical power input. Since less heat is generated, less power is required for the same amount of light output. Thought the light itself can be of a different quality, I don’t believe that this is a point of contention.
However, the durability and life expectancy of these bulbs can be suspect. They appear to be less tolerant of cycling on & off. If you do have them installed, it’s best to just turn on once at night and leave them on until bedtime. I wonder if that was factored in to the equation?
Of more concern is the fact that these bulbs contain Mercury – a toxic heavy metal of major concern. As I’ve seen elsewhere, a broken bulb is essentially a Hazmat concern. Hmm, this doesn’t sounds environmentally friendly.
Finally there are not yet plans for disposal and recycling of the bulbs. And when there are, do they really expect that we will be driving across town or across the county to a disposal centre? That’s hardly likely. As one comment I saw said, they will be disposed of in gas station trash cans and other public bins. Was that part of the plan?
My thoughts are that if we cannot reverse this and make incandescent bulbs available again, we should look more towards LED technology. The CFL bulbs are not the solution. The Mercury toxicity alone is enough for me to not want them in my house.
The only uses I have for CFL bulbs are lights that stay on for multiple hours at a time. I’m thinking a main kitchen light and family room light that are on for hours. Perhaps an outdoor light by the door and by the garage door. But they make no sense as reading lights, bathroom lights, closets lights, or anywhere else the duration of having the bulbs on is in single digits of minutes.
I will stock up on incandescent bulbs if I can find them at a reasonable price. I don’t feel any moral obligation to actually comply with this encroachment by installing the CFLs.
Next, I will keep an eye on LED technology. This is more promising in my mind than the CFL bulbs.
Anywhere that I need the heat from standard light bulbs will require space heaters or similar. I see that being much less efficient than the bulbs – mostly because the space will be kept warmer than it needs to be.
Perhaps I will use candles more, battery powered LED lanterns, or maybe even storm lamps. Yeah, Harper, that’s ‘progressivism’ in terms of efficiency, power, and pollution. That should give my evening an ambiance that will be lacking due to the harshness of CFL bulbs.
And, yes, I will use the CFL bulbs in the applications above that I outlined. There are places for them too.
Finally, of note, I will investigate the halogen filled incandescent bulbs. I don’t have a lot of experience with them, but I do have one that works well as a spot light.
Comments that I have seen
“I currently heat my cottage water system with three 100W bulbs. The cost of a propane far outweighs its usefulness to me in this situation”
I’m not sure if this person is actually heating the water with the bulbs. If so, then good for them – this had not occurred to me. But it brings up another experience that I’ve used bulbs for. Water well covers, pump houses, and rooms in barns with piping. Placing a single 100W light bulb and leaving that on is enough heat to prevent the pipes from freezing. Yes there are stretches where this doesn’t work – and that’s where you use tracers. But in small rooms where there’s lots of piping, junctions, manifolds, valves, etc – a light bulb is a much simpler solution. Also, our pump house where there’s piping and a pump, a light bulb is the optimal solution.
Will people with these needs find another solution? Or will we have to go as far as to develop a light-socket insert that’s essentially a resistance heating element? Ya then screw in a CFL bulb so we can see what we’re working on.
“I can see gas station garbage cans being the receptacle of choice for many of these once they’re burnt out.”
I can see the thinking behind this. Government won’t listen to people, maybe they will listen to businesses that have complaints.
“Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs high cost and significant lifespan shortfall make the advertised savings pure fiction. The two or three minute wait for full light output is annoying, sometimes dangerous. They shouldn’t be installed at the top of a staircase, are no good for closets, and can’t be used as a porch light in the winter. If you break one the clean-up instructions are crazy, need a hazmat team. I’ve had a couple burn out and scorch the fixture.
It’s rare for two have the same light and color output, even premium brands. They raise hell with color schemes. Mrs. W. replaces them with standard bulbs, just throws the CFLs away. Notwithstanding the McGuinty eco-tax you’re supposed to drive them across town to the hazardous waste depot. Ya, that makes enviro-sense. Been stocking up on incandescent bulbs so I’ll be ready when the ban hits.
Low flush toilets are more enviro-nonsense foisted on us by our political and civil service masters. How does a plumbing fixture that has to be flushed two or three times to get the job done save water? New faucets flow at half pressure. One has to run a tap for several minutes before hot water reaches it, wasting more water than the devices save.” — Gardiner Westbound
I don’t have much to add, this is essentially the best comment I’ve seen on the issue.
What are your plans or thoughts?
What do you think? Are you a fan of the CFL bulbs? Have you been stocking up on the incandescent bulbs? Or are you like me and just don’t think that this is a topic that government should be interfering in?