Ban the Bulb!: Vancouver says farewell to old-fashioned light bulbs

Maybe you’ve had this experience in the past few weeks:  You go to the store to buy a light bulb only to discover that there aren’t any on the shelves . . . or at least not the usual kind.   Where all of your familiar old 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs used to be are now row after row of new-fangled compact fluorescent lights or CFLs (i.e. the “twisty” kind).  You ask the store manager and discover, to your surprise, that there aren’t any incandescent bulbs in stock . . . and there won’t be ever again.

Welcome to the brave new Vancouver  – greener, more energy-conscious and better than ever.   As of Jan. 1, the province of  British Columbia ordered all retailers to stop restocking the most popular varieties of incandescent bulbs.  This is in advance of a total ban on the sale of incandescent bulbs, which will be implemented Canada-wide in 2012.

So why all the fuss about a little light bulb?  As you probably already know, traditional bulbs are horribly inefficient.  The new CFLs use about 25 percent of the energy of the old incandescents to produce the same amount of light.  Plus, the CFLs last eight times longer than the old fashioned bulbs.

There is a slight trade-off in price, however.  CFLs cost anywhere from $5 to $12 each.  But that’s money easily made up in energy savings.  BC Hydro estimates that trading out one 100-watt incandescent bulb for a 25-watt CFL (which gives off the same amount of light) will save you $30 in energy costs over the lifetime of the bulb.

So it’s really a win-win situation:  You use less energy and save money at the same time.  After I got over my initial surprise, I couldn’t believe I’d waited so long to make the switch to CFL bulbs.  The modern ones, unlike earlier models, give off a soft, natural light, so you’re not giving up any quality.   I found myself feeling quite proud of B.C. and Vancouver for prodding consumers like me to take a simple, environmentally friendly step that we should have taken years ago.

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Have you made the switch to the new CFL bulbs?  Are you happy you did?  Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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3 Responses to Ban the Bulb!: Vancouver says farewell to old-fashioned light bulbs

  1. L Law

    There is more to the trade off than just cost of the bulb. You should also point out that CFLs contain small amounts of mercury and must be disposed of properly and not thrown into the garbage. I find it ironic that there is now an “eco-fee” on CFL bulbs due to this. Also some people still don’t like the quality of light, CFLs still don’t work as well with dimmers and tri-light fixtures and I’ve found that the usage life of CFLs varies similar to incandescents. I do use CFLs but they are a compromise and hopefully a better option like LED bulbs will hit the mainstream soon.

  2. Bernice Voordouw

    In order to gain the “reported” efficiency, the light must run for 10 hours continuously. So the flicking off and on of normal household holds no benefit to the consumer. Funny the manufacturer does not mention this as they take our money.

  3. maxxx

    Optional extra expensive are the “dimmable” which turn out to be only partially dimm-able.
    You can’t get that soft orange “dinner ambience” from these either, more like the plaza drug store.

    Incidentally, I use the energy efficient type every where else.

    But I resent this nanny state banning by academic government bureaucrats. Especially any law which encourages the use of mercury.

    Hopefully, there’s a black market for old fashioned light bulbs.