Incandescents Out, Compact Fluros In

Planet Ark in conjunction with Philips, sent me through some information today about Energy Saving Lighting, and they granted me permission to reproduce their information.  The Australian Federal Government’s ban on the import of incandescent lighting is only weeks away, so I thought it would be amiss of me not to help promote these resource saving devices.

These types of lights bulbs are better known as Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL).  Right back at the start of my journey, one of the very first actions we took was to change as many of the incandescent light bulbs around our house, to CFL’s.  We were very surprised to find that we could find a CFL to suit every single shape and fitting that we required. 

According to Paul Klymenko, Research Director at Planet Ark, consumers have expressed many questions and uncertainties regarding the imminent ban of incandescent lighting and the reliability, quality and versatility of energy saver lighting.

“Incandescent bulbs are based on old technology, and about 95 percent of energy is wasted as heat. Given the seriousness of the energy/climate change issue, it is not sustainable to continue with the incandescent lamp. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL), known to many people as energy saver lighting, have many long term advantages for consumers and businesses and despite a number of myths floating around, they are the best option and can cater to a variety of lighting needs.”

So, according to Planet Ark and Philips, the 7 myths on energy saver lighting that seem to concern consumers most are:

Myth 1: They’re too expensive – This is like saying modern fuel efficient car is expensive compared to an old V8 gas-guzzler. That’s because you would be ignoring the energy (petrol) costs of running it. Replacing incandescent with good quality CFL’s is one of the best money saving investments you will ever make in the long run.

Myth 2: I don’t like the look of them – While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it is fair to say that until recently the design of CFLs was very different from traditional bulbs. There are many new designs that are much more aesthetically appealing and, in many cases, are more compact. Some styles are indistinguishable from incandescent

Myth 3: They can’t be dimmed – This used to be true but a range of dimmable CFL options are now available. These will work on the majority of dimmer circuits and are available in different colours and as bayonet or screw fittings.

Myth 4: They don’t last as long as they say – The high quality brands will usually last more than the stated average life of 6,000 hrs and usually come with some form of guarantee. It is often the cheaper, no-name brands that are less reliable as they use much lower quality components – you get what you pay for.

Myth 5: They give a harsh white light – This is only partly true and is caused by many consumers being unaware that CFL’s come in variety of colours and therefore pick the wrong CFL for the task.

Myth 6: A broken globe can contaminate your entire home – This is one of the great urban myths and is WRONG – to have a chance of making this myth possible you would have to break a globe daily in every room of your house and not open the windows. High quality bulbs tend to contain lower levels of mercury than some of the cheaper, less reliable brands – CFL bulbs have been used safely around the world for over 25 years.

Myth 7: They contain mercury which makes them worse for the environment – It is so important that we all care for our environment. By switching to CFLs you will actually prevent much more toxic mercury from being released into the air from coal fired power plants than is contained in the energy saver bulbs themselves.

Michael Downie, General Manager Philips Lighting Australia, says that energy saving lighting options have come a long way since they were first developed and the perceptions that some consumers have about them are now old-fashioned.

“The energy saving lighting options available today do not compromise on looks, technology or efficiency. At Philips we have worked really hard to produce a like-for-like range where energy saving options are available to replace the soon to be phased out varieties with the reliability and safety of old products at a fraction of the energy consumption and total life cost.”

Here are a few facts of my own.  I have owned one of the original CFL’s made by Philips for about 11 years.  It is still going strong, and I have it lighting my east facing veranda.  It is a warm white type, and has a softer light than normal regular fluro’s that we were all used to in the initial days of these devices.  All in all, a good reliable light.

Because we replaced the CFL’s as one of our first actions, we noticed about 1 kWh drop in energy consumption in the first week.  This had to coincide with the replacement of the incandescent bulbs, because it is the only variable that changed during that week of measurement.  I remember that we had two 40 watt incandescents that were left on all night for an average of 12 hours each.  That means that we used 350 kWh each year just on these two night lights.  Compare that to the two 5 watt CFL’s we replaced them with, which use a total of 43 kWh per year, that is a saving of 307 kWh of electricity per year or @ 15.77 cents per kWh = $48.  That is cheaper than the initial cost of the bulbs.  What a saving just for two lights.  I could make 5.3 batches of home brew beer with that money!

I promised Mr Planet Ark that I would post some pictures of the newer type CFL’s so here you are.  A bit of a plug for Philips for free, just because I like their product and they help save you money, and they help save the planet! 

Philips Ambience 11W
Dimmable T3 Tornado
Philips Ambience A55
Philips Ambience Candle
Philips Ambience Fancy Round
Philips Tornado

All of these CFL’s come in BC & ES type fittings, with most having a Small BC & ES option.  Like I mentioned above, I had all types of these fixtures, and did not have any problem finding a CFL to fit them.

To finish off here is a funny story, sad but true. 

A month ago, Kim and I ordered some ceiling fans from a popular lighting chain, and I happened to ask when the ban for incandescent lights was taking place.  The lady told me that imports stop in November this year, and sales stop November 2009.  But she also told me that she was not happy.  I asked why.  She stated that not many people wanted to buy them because it gives her sister in law migraine headaches.  What the….? I said that this was not a valid reason to not buy CFL’s and due to the ban the public had no choice.  She said that people would just stock up on incandescent bulbs before the ban.  More the fool them, I thought. Kim then said that we like them, because of the energy they save and that they are good for the environment (I had given up with this clown at this stage, so it was Kim’s turn).  She still complained that people wouldn’t be happy and that sales would plummet!  Aha, I thought, that was the root of her whinging.  More reliable bulbs with a longer life span, less sales. Bingo, and bad luck for this store owner. 

We both left the shop thinking that she just didn’t get it!  What hope has Joe and Jane Public got with people like her selling light bulbs?

Lucky blokes like me tout the benefits of CFL’s wherever I go.

Also, have a look at Camp Quality Country Mile Tour’s blog.  Phil (Wombat064) called me today and told me that he had just got all his incandescent bulbs swapped out in his house for free.  Now that is a bargain and a scheme worth investigating.



  1. says

    Here in the U.S. we can buy multipacks of the various cfl bulbs at warehouse stores (like Sam’s, Costco, etc.) for a great price. We have used them happily for a few years now. A lot of people protest them due to the mercury content and argue that they are not being disposed of properly and thereby contaminating our landfills. I do have to admit that I was quite disappointed that to dispose of them properly it would have been over a 70 mile drive round trip – that was not desirable with gasoline prices so high. A store here called Home Depot stepped up to the plate though and allows anyone to drop off old cfl bulbs there for proper disposal. There are plenty of those stores around here so it certainly makes it easier.

  2. Jamie (aka Gardenamateur) says

    I have compact fluoros almost everywhere, but the dimmable ones still aren’t up to scratch. While the old incandescents can be dimmed from, say, 100% down to 10% brightness, all the different dimmables I’ve tried can go from 100% down to about 50% and then they cut out to black! They’re still well short of being good performers, but hopefully in the next generation they’ll get better.

  3. Barbara says

    Where can you get the ones for dimmer lights?
    We replaced all the bulbs when we went on
    solar power – except for one dimmer light
    that makes an awful buzzing noise when you
    use a cfl. I used ordinary clfs on the other
    dimmer lights and just don’t use the dimmer
    switch any more but this one – the buzz is
    so loud it worries me!

  4. Anonymous says

    im glad they now produce ones for dimmer lights because the ordinary ones dont last very long john (dad)

  5. says

    Better still !!! do as I did and get it done FREE . I win, my power bill will now be lower, the environment will be better off and my home will be cooler.


  6. SubtropicalHappiness says

    Hi Gavin we did the same thing with the light globes as our first change we also found a globe for every one of our lights. I still conrinue to be vigilante with the lights being turned off when no one is in the room and din’t have them on if it is day light or I will yell.

  7. says

    love the avatar image of Gavin…Yeah change the bulbs people, they don’t cost much at all and actually save you money as they last longer than other bulbs and are cheaper to run…Good plug Gav

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