Written By: - Date published: 10:57 am, June 17th, 2008 - 24 comments
Categories: Environment - Tags: , ,

And the winner is… the compact fluorescent lightbulb!

Stuff reports that “from late next year, the old incandescent bulbs will be phased out as part of an Efficient Lighting Strategy”.

The strategy aims to reduce lighting energy consumption by 20 per cent by 2015 and to help some energy efficient bulbs will be subsidised.

PS. If you want to see this t-shirt produced, go vote for it at

24 comments on “CFL FTW”

  1. Disengaged 1

    Will there be a comprehensive disposal programme to go along with it or are we just going to be subsidising the release of more mercury into the environment?

  2. Stephen 2

    I wonder how i’m supposed to buy light bulbs for my dimmers then? I know those type of bulbs exist, but not here.

  3. mike 3

    Yes the mercury issue will stop me from changing over sooner than I have to.
    Sounds like you need a decontamination team in if you smash one.

  4. MikeE 4

    How are we supposed to smoke P now?

  5. Matthew Pilott 5

    Disengaged, there already is one, perhaps you’ve never looked.

    mikeE – that’s the point. just use a fluro bulb instead, you’ll be fine.

    mike – you never struck me as the hysterical type – isn’t the Right meant to question whether you need some namby-pamby PC decontamination team just because you broke a lightbulb?

    Or do you only complain when the government regulates for something, even if it is something you should clearly have been doing, and therefore there’s no reason to complain about the regulation?

  6. There’s less mercury in CFLs than incandescents cause to be released from the burning of coal at Huntly.

  7. There’s less mercury in CFLs than incandescents cause to be released from the burning of coal at Huntly.

    [Tane: Random, now our most prolific poster is getting caught in the spam filter too.]

  8. mike 8

    Matt – what’s hysterical not wanting to risk my familes health for a few $ worth of power.

    Surprised the Greens are supporting everybody having glass viles of mercury hanging from their ceilings.

  9. Broken and discarded CFLs
    …It is important to note that the amount of mercury released by one bulb can exceed U.S. federal guidelines for chronic exposure. Chronic however, implies that the exposure takes place over a long period of time. One time exposure to a trace amount of mercury is unlikely to be harmful…

    If a CFL does break and it’s mercury is released, it’s still not dangerous. Spending all your time living among broken CFLs might be dangerous. Having working CFLs around presents no mercury danger.

    CFLs are on the verge of being outmoded by white LEDs anyway, even more energy efficent, they are being used for headlamps in the new electric sportscars.

  10. T-rex 10

    The other great thing about LED is that you basically don’t need to replace them. Ever.

    Well, ok, “ever” has a slightly different meaning these days (and rightly so), I’ll moderate that to “within your lifetime”

  11. MikeE 11

    I’m no fan of regulation at the best of times.. I use energy saving lightbulbs by choice, but only in certain situations – for instance some lamps – the energy saving bulb throws the wrong type of light (very bright etc) or the bulb does not fit…

    I think most people would natually choice these without any need for regulation, and there are legitmate uses for both types of bulbs.

    I don’t see any need for government intervention, with power prices going up, theres already a market signal for puchasing energy efficient bulbs, but theres no point in banning them – when there are legit uses for standard ones as well.

    BTW: I’d guess that all bar one or two of my light fixtures at home have energy saving bulbs. Its worth noting however that they DON’T fit into my bedside lamps (they are too big for the lampshade) for the brightness required.

  12. Disengaged 12

    Matthew saying that I would need to look for it is kind of my point. At the moment If I break a bulb I can sweep it up and pop it into a cardboard box and stick it in a wheelie bin. Problem solved.

    With a CFL a would need to find a hazardous sybstances drop off station in which to dispose of the remnants(which last time I checked was about 15kms from my house), before thoroughly decontaminating my floor so that my dog doesn’t die when she next licks some crumbs off the kitchen floor.

    All for a relatively negligible saving in my yearly power consumption.

    Sounds like an excellent use of resources to me.

  13. Matthew Pilott 13

    Where did this sudden mercury hysteria come from?

    Has there been some trashy expose on Target or in Truth or something? From what I’ve read, everyone is getting very distressed over what isn’t an issue. I doubt anyone here knows how commonly used Mercury is.

    Should we legislate to ban toys from China because they might have lead paint? That’s a bigger threat. Nuclear is clearly a no-go too, there’s a bit more of a threat there. Oh and we need to ban carbon emissions since it’s possible they’re bad too. Apparently BZP caused the odd seizure, so it’s good that stuff is gone.

    Just funny that most of the time, it’s the supposed hand-wringing tree-hugging bearded hemp-sweatered PC brigade that does this sort of complaining isn’t it? But then you guys are happy to do the same when you see fit, when it suits your agenda.

    Edit: By ‘relaitvely negligible’, you’re talking of easily $150 a year on average – that’s not a small amount. Collectively, it’s a whopping huge amount. But maybe it takes a leftie to think collectively, and not only look at oneself…

  14. mike 14

    Matt, there was a story on One News a couple of nights ago about the health risks the CFLs pose if broken and how they should be dealt with (using sticky tape to collect all the pieces – not vacumming etc, etc)

  15. Matthew Pilott 15

    So, not quite Target but seemingly not far from it.

    that was a genuine question, I saw an article on Stuff that had similar comments. I’ll have a look into the piece, but unless the research has changed in the last short while I don’t think this level of fear is justified. As said – I think there are a lot worse things to worry about.

  16. Lampie 16

    I work in the lighting industry hence the name

    Disposal by ordinary consumer is viewed as an issue as CFLs contain mercury along with any fluorescent in the market place. Problem with some and I believe it would be the case with these CFLs, the mercury content is not measured. Philips Altos and the Osram have measured mercury in them.

    Terms of Govt. yes they have put money into large campaigns such as the Eco and Philips promos (buy 5 for $10) which is cheap, dirt cheap as you should be paying about $7-$9 for them. Savings are not huge as hot water and heating makes up the majority of your power bill where lighting is about 20%.

    Incandescents are inefficient and soon LEDs (again will be very high price like $35 -$50 a “bulb”) will catch up. Fluorescent light is different to incadescent (though colour rendering is very good, shame really) so get use to it!!!

    They are lamps by the way, bulbs grow in the ground. Edison invented the electric lamp NOT BULB!! Also founded General Electric.

  17. Disengaged 17

    MP:By ‘relaitvely negligible’, you’re talking of easily $150 a year on average – that’s not a small amount. Collectively, it’s a whopping huge amount. But maybe it takes a leftie to think collectively, and not only look at oneself

    So I am selfish because I am questioning the rationale behind encouraging people to introduce yet another toxic substance into their households for what I perceive to be relatively little gain?

    At the moment the CFL bulbs cannot be disposed of in general household rubbish which will require people to either take a seperate trip to the disposal centre or for a seperate garbage collection service to be set up. How much extra cost and pollution will that add?

    I fully support any well thought out initiative that will reduce our impact on the environment as I rather like living in New Zealand. I just see this as political expediency and environmental grandstanding without truly examining the effects. Much the same as when we continue to block the introduction of more environmentally safe power sources (windfarms, wave generators and personal windpower generators) through exhaustive RMA battles, while Huntly is busy spewing forth carbon at a massive rate.

    Or am I being to selfish again?

  18. Lampie 18

    Mercury is in the powder, it is when the “dust” is breathed in and not washing yourself after you need to watch. Think I have handled enough to know!!! Also try not to cut yourself i.e merc into your blood system

  19. Matthew Pilott 19

    Disengaged – I have been trivialising the issue, sorry.

    Just that what I see as ‘the right’ are very quick to howl and jump up & down when they think that some form of PC regulation is going to affect their ‘right’ to ‘do something’, yet I’ve seen much of the opposite today – howls that something isn’t safe, and gross exaggerations (not all of which were yours of course) as to the nature of the problem.

    Over the years, ‘the right’ have accused the environmental movement of doing much the same (many think this is what they do every time they wish to raise an issue), yet for political expediency it’s fine to act as those they’ve been criticising for decaes.

    So I took a rather lightweight stance for a bit of a laugh. Seems you have thought about it, but a healthy dose of scepticism towards a safetly claim of a product is always in order. Check the counter-claims before making that trip to the nearest haz-mat disposal unit with those strips of sellotape…

    Your spin on the ‘selfish’ issue was admirable though, disengaged.

    I’m not going to touch your RMA comment – not sure what exactly could be done to improve the process, but replacing an ecological disaster with another one isn’t the way to go. And whatever happens, Huntly will be providing baseload generation for some time yet. At least a third of it is very efficient these days. Perhaps some sequestration technology would be in order for the other 2/3…

  20. aucklandboy 20

    More compulsion from Komrad Clark and Fritzsimmonds.

  21. insider 21

    You can dispose of them in your household rubbish – nothing stopping you. In fact it will probably go to a landfill where it will be secure inside a cardboard container inside at least one of not two plastic bags and then secured in a monitored site with leachate capture. That’s probably a good place to put it.

    Please don’t trust the paranoid precautions used in the US. They are all about protecting the makers of the bulbs (yes I am quite happy to use that perfectly adequate and well understood term) And as for Target…panty sniffers unite.

    NZ bulbs typically have 5 milligrams of liquid mercury. That’s 0.005g – about a pinhead. My mercury fillings have about 0.5g. You might think that explains the way I am but we have a massive human experiment out there showing next to no possibility of harm from that. Generations of schoolchildren used to play with liquid mercury in chemistry class without harm. and we have happily been putting glass tubes full of mercury in our mouths for a hundred or so years. And you shouldn’t go near the Waikato river given the mercury going into there.

    Now if you dropped one or two bulbs a day for the rest of your life and inhaled the vapours I suspect you might be at serious risk. But you don;t. Otherwise you are probably fine. I think you need to have a think about the real level of risk here.

    The economics of cfls are a no brainer. Pity they are ugly and give off industrial light. But that may change or be a matter of habit.

  22. Rex Widerstrom 22

    insider, don’t get the conspiracy theorists started about mercury fillings. They’re secret transmitters that get monitored at Waihopai. Thankfully my tinfoil hat protects me.

    As for these CFLs, as SP and T-Rex point out they’re old technology – valve radios compared to transistors. LEDs are more effective, efficient, safe, flexible and last longer.

    Hopefully the strategy isn’t about forcing people into CFLs and nothing else (which is what John Howard imposed on Australian in about his only gesture towards energy efficiency) and LEDs will also be subsidised?

  23. Felix 23

    aucklandboy, why didn’t you spell it “kompulsion”? That would have been way kooler.

    insider, you’ve konvinced me to stop eating lightbulbs for good.

  24. Matthew Pilott 24

    aucklandboy, don’t worry about it. The next Edict will ban you from eating CFLs, and then you might get better.

    Doubtful, but there’s always hope.

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