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The European Union joins Australia in an effort to phase out incandescents

In the past month, DailyTech has reported on two government initiatives to cut down on power requirements and greenhouse emissions. In Raleigh, NC, the local government is committed to making the switch from incandescent to LED lighting for public lighting (street lights, pedestrian walkways, parking deck lighting, etc). The move would save the city roughly $80,000 USD a year in utility bills.

Likewise, Australia's Environment Minister announced that his country would be phasing out all incandescent light bulbs and replacing them with fluorescents. The move is said to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tons while cutting household power bills by 66%.

Now it appears that the European Union (EU) is jumping on the energy-efficient lighting bandwagon. EU leaders at a summit on Friday mandated that energy-efficient lighting be in place in office buildings and streets in 2008 and homes by 2009.

"We're not saying people should throw out all the bulbs in their house today but people should start looking at what's in the shops," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The EU has set a target to reduce energy consumption by 20% before 2020. The EU has also challenged the United States, China and India to make similar measures and is committed to upping its target to 30% if the countries comply.

The EU has also made a commitment to receive 20% of its power from renewable energy sources by 2020. This would be a substantial improvement from the current level of 6.5%.



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not a bad idea
By TSS on 3/13/2007 7:11:37 AM , Rating: 2
it's a good idea for saving energy where we can. and it does have benefits, when we switched from normal 40watt lights to saving lights all around the house (something of 11 watts or something?)we shaved off about 50 euro's from our electric bill (yes, THAT much. but their on alot.) which is never a bad thing. though i have to admit, the light they produce is less, not significantly lesser but lesser none the less.

but all in all, i think we are pushing efficientcy a little hard. it's the hot item of the moment, but we really need to be carefull we dont have to trade some of the stuff we have gained in for lesser quality simply because it saves a few watts.

the old "not too little not too much but just right" principle.




RE: not a bad idea
By Spivonious on 3/13/2007 8:26:58 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I switched to the flourescent bulbs a few months ago for my house. I found that I had to look at the light output ratings and not the "same as a __W bulb!" on the package, otherwise the flourescent was noticeably dimmer.

I don't know if this is just with the ones I bought, but after a few months the new bulbs started making a high-pitched whistling noise. If the TV is on I don't notice it, but if it's quiet, the whistling becomes quote annoying. I'm sure that most people wouldn't be able to hear this...it's like a dog-whistle frequency.

But, the savings in replacement bulbs alone is worth the cost. My parents switched to flourescents about 10 years ago and they just now had to replace a bulb. Pretty good, if you ask me.


RE: not a bad idea
By Samus on 3/13/2007 8:49:30 AM , Rating: 2
it goes either way, i have some CFL 100-watt bulbs that are significantly brighter than a normal 100-watt bulb, and I have some 60-watt CFL's that are more in the range of a 40-watt bulb.

they also don't reach peak lumen output until their operating temperature is reached, something in the order of 140F for my 100-watt CFL.


RE: not a bad idea
By dever on 3/13/2007 12:49:55 PM , Rating: 1
Is everyone missing the point here? This is not about weather CFLs or LEDs are better, and for some purposes they are, it's about government intrusion and contorl. It's about free markets and competition. Remember the recent article on the possibility of much more efficient incandescents? That would not be the case without open, free, competative markets. It's amazing how people will go along with politically fashionable edicts, that erode societal and personal freedoms. These sort of mandates will only serve to do the opposite of their "claimed" purpose. When products are truly better and more efficient, people will use them, and competing products will have to change to stay relevant. This is basic stuff. Come on people.


RE: not a bad idea
By TomZ on 3/13/2007 1:31:02 PM , Rating: 2
I totally agree. I ranted about this on the Australia article, and I feel the same about the EU. The EU should let consumers, businesses, and the markets sort themselves out. Intrusion like this will most likely have a bad outcome/unintended consequence. Markets and businesses are more clever than the government, and they will find any and all opportunities to achieve their purposes without regard to the government's actual goal.

If the EU or any other government wants to increase the use of high-efficiency lighting, then it should contribute in less intrusive ways like making available grants for R&D of related technology and manufacturing process that can benefit industry. This way, they can accelerate adoption through the normal market process, rather than telling people what kind of bulbs they're allowed or not allowed to use.


RE: not a bad idea
By TomZ on 3/13/2007 2:15:01 PM , Rating: 1
Please, all people who do not believe in freedom, please go ahead and downrate these comments. After all, the government should be able to decide for you what types of lightbulbs you should be able to use or not use. Because after all, we would not be able to figure it out for ourselves.

Freedom is wasted on those who do not appreciate and understand it, and those who are so willing to give it up their civil liberties so needlessly probably should be deprived of them anyway.


RE: not a bad idea
By Russell on 3/13/2007 4:10:43 PM , Rating: 3
I believe in the freedom to downrate posts wherein the author arrogantly misuses (and, frankly, abuses) freedom as an argument against laws and regulations.

"Freedom is wasted on those who do not appreciate and understand it" <-- I agree. People such as yourself cannot possibly understand what freedom actually means, which is probably why you misuse the word.


RE: not a bad idea
By TomZ on 3/13/2007 5:08:21 PM , Rating: 3
Laws and regulations are okay to limit freedom and personal choice when there is a compelling need, which is not the case with regulations that intend to force consumers to use certain types of lightbulbs.

Regulations like this are just about politician do-gooders meddling with free markets and slowly eroding your freedom to make decisions for yourself. The arrogance in this situation is in the politicians' belief that such decisions need to be made for their citizens.

Do you consider yourself able to decide for yourself? Or do you need someone to decide for you? That is the principle here.


RE: not a bad idea
By Russell on 3/13/2007 6:21:53 PM , Rating: 2
I understand what you are saying. It is a bit heavy-handed but I do happen to agree with the cause. I think that regulating this now will save some problems later (from both perspectives of reduced greenhouse gasses and reduced demand for electricity that is already very expensive to provide, particularly at peak hours).

I take issue with your crying out 'freedom violation!' over this. I feel it's almost always used inappropriately (including in this case). A rational argument against regulation is more effective, I feel, than an emotional one, which is what I feel you were doing (though your reply is very much on the rational side).

While I do consider myself able to decide for myself, I believe that most of the population is stupid and does need somebody to make long-term decisions for them.


RE: not a bad idea
By logan77 on 3/14/2007 7:43:18 AM , Rating: 2
You are calling for right to shit on people's heads (confusing it with being "free"). I can not agree with that. You won't be forced to buy at particular vendor - THAT would be action against your freedom.

People judge their purchases based mostly on it's price (usually putting disproportionally big emphasis on short term costs - "here and now" prevails). People in general won't bother to buy more expensive, but environmnentally friendly(tm) products, hence the legislative initiative. And I for one applaud it.


RE: not a bad idea
By typo101 on 3/13/2007 7:02:17 PM , Rating: 2
Although you do have a point about governments usually messing things up when they are just trying to help, I'm not so sure they are wrong to get involved on some level. Maybe they should have given light bulb manufacturers (all types) and deadline to drop their bulbs to x watts per lumens.

The market does have a way of adapting istelf much better than government regulations can change things, but in what way will it adapt? Financialy or Environmentaly? Enforcing flourescent probably isn't the best way, but I don't disagree with giving the market a good hard shove in the right direction.


RE: not a bad idea
By FrankM on 3/13/2007 1:35:28 PM , Rating: 2
First, the word choice of the article is poor, as it is a directive, and I haven't heard of them planning on making laws of these for civilians.
Second, traditional lightbulbs have an efficiency of ~4%. It's a piece of tungsten in a gas superheated to the point it's glowing white-hot. Fluorescent is much more efficient, but their low-frequency vibration is fatiguing (that's why they are usually in groups of 2-3-4-etc); but compact bulbs vibrate at high frequencies which are not visible. We've been using them for 5-6 years.
Third, the market has its failures. Traditionals are cheap, while compact bulbs are more expensive to manufacture; therefore it has to have a very small margin to be competitive. So what do the companies rather produce? Your call.
Lastly, why are some Americans so paranoid?


RE: not a bad idea
By TomZ on 3/13/2007 2:32:44 PM , Rating: 1
It's not paranoia, we just value our civil liberties and we are generally against socialist-leaning governments.


RE: not a bad idea
By CSMR on 3/13/2007 10:37:09 AM , Rating: 2
Probably just the ones you bought. I had this issue with one brand of bulb but not any others.


RE: not a bad idea
By ElJefe69 on 3/13/2007 11:00:05 AM , Rating: 1
everything in your house looks like shit now due to poor colour from the short spectrum of light,

plus,

you get headaches and irritation from the slow flash of the bulb.

i use incandescents as it makes your mind more at ease. 15 dollars a month difference is me not ordering a second martini.


RE: not a bad idea
By TomZ on 3/13/2007 11:15:16 AM , Rating: 2
What you describe might be true for traditional fluorescents, but not modern CFLs. I've been replacing my incandescents with CFLs, and the light quality and color is good - very similar to the incandescents they are replacing. These bulbs have electronic ballasts that operate in the tens of kilohertz range - no flicker.

In our home, we have people home all the time, and lights are on all the time. The cost savings, I think, will be pretty significant for us.

One other minor benefit of CFLs - we have some hallway light fixtures that were limited to 40-watt bulbs which were a little too dim for that area, and I replaced them with 16-watt CFLs which are equivalent to 60-watt incandescents. The hall is now brighter than before.


RE: not a bad idea
By PlasmaBomb on 3/13/2007 8:46:28 AM , Rating: 2
An 11W fluorescent bulb is about equivalent to a 60W bulb so they should have produced more light than your old bulbs.


RE: not a bad idea
By Spoelie on 3/13/2007 10:37:20 AM , Rating: 3
How recent did you make the change? They have been making good progress, to a point where you can't really compare bulbs bought two years ago to the ones you find today.

What i really want to know however, what are the environmental effects of producing a CFL compared to a normal bulb? And if you compare the overall picture (production cost/environmental effect in material and energy spent at production, electricity spent over the lifetime, recycable leftovers, ....) which comes out on top?


RE: not a bad idea
By TomZ on 3/13/2007 11:07:33 AM , Rating: 2
The CFL's I'm finding in the stores here in the U.S. have both mercury and lead. Not a great place to start.


RE: not a bad idea
By Wonga on 3/13/2007 3:23:44 PM , Rating: 2
Well the EU RoHS directive would remove that problem from the bulbs sold in the EU.


RE: not a bad idea
By TomZ on 3/13/2007 3:43:39 PM , Rating: 2
I know that RoHS would remove the lead, but would it also remove the mercury?


RE: not a bad idea
By Wonga on 3/13/2007 5:24:28 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, mercury use is also restricted.


RE: not a bad idea
By Wonga on 3/13/2007 5:26:55 PM , Rating: 2
Just for the record, I haven't looked into the essential chemicals necessary for the production of compact flourescents, so perhaps others could expand on whether mercury and lead are essential in this case, but I'd assume they could be replaced with other chemicals.


Why is it always the consumers fault?
By arazok on 3/13/2007 9:53:20 AM , Rating: 3
I used to work in a refrigerated warehouse for a major grocer. It was about 250,000 sq feet, and cooled to -5C 24 hours a day. The exterior walls and roof consisted of a sheet of aluminum about 5cm thick. The AC units ran 24/7. My present office building has brick exterior, and the roof is about 1/2 inch of ashfault sitting on a sheet of aluminum, with no insulation on the inside.

Why am I being forced to buy florescent bulbs, while this type of waste goes unchecked?

I feel like this whole environmental push is a big show put on by the government so we think they are doing something about energy conservation. The public doesn't see the wasted energy our businesses produce, so it is ignored.




RE: Why is it always the consumers fault?
By Tamale on 3/13/2007 10:19:10 AM , Rating: 2
you've definitely nailed a huge point that most people simply don't understand the huge impact poorly insulated buildings have on utility costs..


RE: Why is it always the consumers fault?
By FITCamaro on 3/13/2007 12:21:29 PM , Rating: 2
Definitely true. However at least here in the US, if you're a government contractor you have to show compliance with government standards and processes. One of those is to reduce energy usage, trash generation, increase recycling, etc. The company I work for has halved its energy usage since the same time last year.

This is also a problem with a lot of homes and apartments. However the problem there is poor building quality from contractors trying to cut costs and raise profits. The power costs don't affect them so they don't care.


By dever on 3/13/2007 12:59:45 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Why is it always the consumers fault?
Interesting comment, but in the end everyone is a consumer. Businesses are people. They are owned by people, employ people, make products and services for people. If another business comes along and does more efficient warehouse design (free market competition) then the inefficient warehouses will have to adjust. We've seen HUGE increases in productivity over the last couple of decades in the US from just this sort of attention to details, made possible by the lack of government interference. Efficiency needs to be driven by cost factors, not by political whim.


RE: Why is it always the consumers fault?
By Spivonious on 3/13/2007 10:39:06 AM , Rating: 2
It's another point to make, but the point of this move seems to be more geared towards public lighting, like streetlamps.

What I don't understand is why a business would just throw money away when they could spend a bit to get better insulation? Your refrigerated warehouse probably spends over $100,000 a year on cooling. Why wouldn't they want to save?

And the government isn't blaming consumers. They are simply trying to save money. Nowhere do they imply blame.


RE: Why is it always the consumers fault?
By arazok on 3/13/2007 10:53:54 AM , Rating: 3
I'm no business major, but I believe that the ROI calculations the decision makers use short time horizons. I'd think about 5 years at most. Someone more knowledgeable can correct me if I am wrong. So, if it costs $1Mil to insulate the building, and it will save $150K a year on utilities, then over 5 years they lose 250K. They will opt not to insulate the building.

The stupidity is that they will probably (and *somebody* will certainly), own the building for >5 years. Everyone loses in the end.


RE: Why is it always the consumers fault?
By fic2 on 3/13/2007 11:13:01 AM , Rating: 2
I think the problem is probably that most businesses incur the energy costs indirectly. They lease the building from somebody else. The owner (if they pay for energy) just passes on the cost to the leasor. If the leasor pays for the energy costs directly - well they don't own the building so they don't want to make improvements for something they don't own.

Other than insulation what gets me is all the lights that businesses leave on. I know where I work if I am the last one out I turn off some lights on my way out. Conference rooms have their lights on whether there is a meeting or not.

In the building that I live in we have started slowly changing our lighting. Mainly because of me and another guy. I have done the calculations on a lot of the lights and the ROI on some of them is 3-4 months. Granted these are with lights that are on 24/7. I am trying to get the HOA to make the jump to occupancy sensors for some of the areas.


By TomZ on 3/13/2007 12:31:42 PM , Rating: 2
In the part of the country I live in, commercial buildings are leased as triple-net, meaning that the tenant receives a direct bill for the energy use.

I think the larger issue is that most businesses have a lot else on their plate to manage, and the energy bill is just thought of as a "cost of doing business."


By isaacmacdonald on 3/13/2007 5:14:14 PM , Rating: 2
You have to keep in mind that anticipated future returns are discounted (see: time value of money). So, assuming a 7% annual rate of interest, 150k for 5 years (starting 1 year from today) is presently worth around 615k not 750k as you implied.

Discounting/finding the present value, is what makes it possible to put finite prices on annuities with infinite amounts of payments (perpetuities).

Presumably, ROI calculations use the same discounting principles to adjust returns to correct present values. One of the interesting features of this is that, like perpetuities, the infinite amount of savings afforded by decent insulation (150k year forever) has a finite present value (one that certainly exceeds a million dollars, though I'd have to dig out my textbook to figure out the exact value).


By Hulk on 3/13/2007 12:58:02 PM , Rating: 2
Incredible that people are just learning about this. Don't people understand the relationship between electricity and the electric bill. And that includes landlords too.

Stunning how the government needs to hand hold.




By FrankM on 3/13/2007 1:25:10 PM , Rating: 2
We too started using compact bulbs ... I don't know exactly, but at least 5-6 years ago. Now, with the exception of reading lamps and maybe some others, all the rest are compact bulbs.
And some people only now start to realize that traditional bulbs are just 4-6% efficient and by using these they can save money...


By Spivonious on 3/13/2007 3:07:24 PM , Rating: 2
I was going to respond to you with a thoughtful, intellectual argument, but then I noticed your username. Habitual trolls are not welcome.


By TomZ on 3/13/2007 3:42:20 PM , Rating: 2
I agree - if you need heat, then the "wasted" energy in incandescent bulbs is not actually wasted. Since I live in a part of the country where your house needs to be heated a significant fraction of the year, it doesn't bother me too much to have some incandescents. In summer, however...

Also, electric heaters are 100% energy efficient. Sounds funny the first time you hear it, but it is true.


By BZDTemp on 3/14/2007 7:51:03 AM , Rating: 2
Electric heaters may be a 100% efficient but creating the energy in the first place is not and transporting it isn't either. Using a gas heather is likely more efficient but it's a complex thing to work out.


This seems overly optomistic
By MrTeal on 3/13/2007 8:49:40 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
The move is said to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tons while cutting household power bills by 66%.


I just don't see how this could be accurate. The last time I bought CFLs, I thought that the 100W replacement was 14W usage. Given 86% savings on lighting, to have that reduce your power bill be 66% would mean you were spending around 75% of your electricity on the lights. Sounds like they could save a hell of alot more power just turning out the lights when they leave a room.




RE: This seems overly optomistic
By Spoelie on 3/13/2007 10:40:16 AM , Rating: 2
Not in your house no, but all offices, hotels, public spaces, street lights etc. The lights in there are a big part of the energy consumption of a country. But to say 75% is indeed a bit much


RE: This seems overly optomistic
By Bladen on 3/14/2007 2:45:38 AM , Rating: 2
The air conditioning that all offices that I know of would always use many multiple times more power than their lights ever will.

Until they try to match the sun's luminosity output that is.

Lights use watts of power, air con's use kilowatts of power.


Migraines
By ErkDog on 3/13/2007 12:25:33 PM , Rating: 3
The move to require people to have fluorescent lights is foolish. For instance I used them until I discovered they give me migraines. I wouldn't mind putting LEDs in my home, but they are used more for area lightning than home lighting.

Regardless, I can't be around flouros!!




RE: Migraines
By TomZ on 3/13/2007 1:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
CFLs give you migraines, or traditional fluorescents?


RE: Migraines
By Spivonious on 3/13/2007 3:09:36 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not the OP, but I do know that my dad can get migraines from watching a movie in the theater. I know that I can't stand flickery lights or screens. However, it's been quite a while since even regular flourescents have had a noticeable flicker.

To the OP: CFLs (the incandescent replacement bulbs) have extremely high "refresh-rates", in the 100Khz range, so you should be fine.


Light pollution needs some attention
By hellokeith on 3/13/2007 1:17:40 PM , Rating: 2
Hopefully all this talk of lighting energy efficiency will bring some overdue attention to light pollution. It's depressing how few stars can be seen in the average city now. Better spread design and tighter restrictions need to be in place for businesses (and residences) which have outdoor lights on all night. Outside of runway lights, there is really no need for any light in the city to be directly visible above 90 degrees. Lenses and/or reflectors should be mandatory on any outdoor light assembiles. Back when long tube flourescents were gaining in popularity for large indoor retail establishments, the simple installation of relfectors caused a revolution in cutting down the amount of tubes needed. This same idea should be spearheaded for all outdoor lighting. I've got neighbors who have motion sensitive flood lights which literally light up half the street including the tops of trees.. this is simply ridiculous, wasting energy and adding to unneeded sky lighting.




By DeadPooL on 3/13/2007 2:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
Whats crazy is that it takes 1000 liters of fresh water to mass produce a few liters orange juice. I have switch to compact bulbs and after a week or so stopped thinking about the difference except in my electricity bill which is now smaller :)


By erple2 on 3/13/2007 2:36:57 PM , Rating: 2
Funny. I was flying over the US recently at night. The bulk of the city lights I saw weren't lights that were shining into the sky, but city lights that were reflecting off things like buildings and roads. Other than making building sides out of perfect absorbers (which I understand have now been produced), you're going to get light bleeding into the sky, simply from reflected light.


My experience with energy saving lamps...
By cane on 3/14/2007 6:10:04 AM , Rating: 2
I have tried them and can say that they haven't made me want to switch all the lamps in my house.

First of all I live in Sweden, and NO we don't have ice and snow all year round and we don't have polar bears. However we do have a cold climate compared to a lot of other countries. The newer lamps don't cut my electric bill because they actually help heating the house.

Second they are more expensive.

Thirdly don't even try to use them outside, they die as soon as winter comes (at least in our climate)...




RE: My experience with energy saving lamps...
By mikable on 3/14/2007 10:47:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The newer lamps don't cut my electric bill because they actually help heating the house.


That's assuming you use electric heat. I might save a few pennies from my natural gas heat bill, But my electric bill would be dollars higher.

quote:
Thirdly don't even try to use them outside, they die as soon as winter comes (at least in our climate)...


How cold does it get? I have a vacation Home in northern Minnesota my CFL's work fine (after they warm up)


By cane on 3/14/2007 12:07:38 PM , Rating: 2
You are right I use electric heat.

The average winter temperature in my region (taken over a 29 year period) is around -20C (-4F)... thats just the average. The lowest notated temperature for my country is -53C (-63.4F), that might give you an idea as to how low it can get at times...


Australia again
By Oregonian2 on 3/13/2007 3:24:33 PM , Rating: 2
To repeat my comment made in the Australia thread, things will get interesting when one wants to replace oven lamps with a fluorescent one. Retrofitting automobile headlights and all the accessory lights will be both interesting and VERY expensive. Photographic/movie flood lamps will become useless. Even professional level flash monolights will become useless because their modeling lamps are all incandescent (of the halogen variety) AFAIK (including mine) fluorescents wouldn't work. Etc. There are too many specialty lamps to ban incandescents in a period less than probably twenty years. Ever see a catalog from a specialty bulb place? There are zillions of 'em, and they don't have a lot of the really specialized ones either.




By wallijonn on 3/13/2007 4:35:25 PM , Rating: 2
All instant on circuits in TVs and stereos, along with the always on clock on microwave ovens, should be disabled. How about a light sensor for your refrigerator? - the light won't come on during the day.

That should save a whole lot of energy.




not unexpected
By Gooberslot on 3/13/2007 10:21:06 PM , Rating: 2
After all, these are the same idiots that brought us the RoHS.




good move
By otispunkmeyer on 3/14/2007 3:54:13 AM , Rating: 2
now if the EU would just give me a bursary to purchase replacement hi-efficiency bulbs that'd be swell.

infact i'd probably light everything i could with LED's because i think they are great, theyre just too expensive.

i replaced my cars brake lights with LED ones = £24.99 for two LED based bulbs (my car uses twin filament bulbs)

LED festoon bulbs for the numberplate recess = £4.99 each

high intensity LED side lights = £15.99 a pair

well expensive. but they look cool




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