The Ban The Bulb energy efficiency campaign is one of Dr Matt Prescott's environmental projects  | Contact BTB  
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              A campaign to save money and help the environment by using energy efficient light bulbs

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Some important facts...
Traditional incandescent light bulbs use about 90% of their energy making a metal element white hot.


By comparison, compact fluorescent light bulbs waste very little energy in the form of heat, as they work in the same way as fluorescent tubes (with electricity passing through a gas in the bulb and making a coating on the inside of the bulb glow brightly).

Although incandescent light bulbs are cheap to make, and to buy, they cost more to use because they waste energy and need to be replaced more frequently.

Lighting accounts for 10-15% of an average home's electricity bill, and fitting a single energy-efficient bulb (costing £2-5) can reduce your lighting costs by up to £7 a year.


In a recent report, the UK'S National Audit Office says that greater energy efficiency is the cheapest way to achieve the UK government's goal of a 20% cut in carbon dioxide emissions, from 1990 levels, by 2010... and to move towards the government's declared target of a 60% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050.

The phasing out, and replacement, of incandescent lightbulbs is necessary because energy-efficient light bulbs are not being used, even though they have been available for over 20 years.

If energy-efficient light bulbs - and similar technologies - are to become widely used, and cheap to buy, more drastic action is necessary.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005


The problem...
Light bulbs and energy efficiency

The waste of energy associated with using incandescent light bulbs costs money, causes unnecessary pollution and risks harmful climate change.

Although energy saving light bulbs have been available for over 30 years they have struggled to gain widespread acceptance and use - despite considerable improvements in their design and performance.

Ban The Bulb feels that compact fluorescent lamps have not become widely used because:

(i) energy saving light bulbs cost more to buy than incandescents,
(ii) they are not as readily available in shops as they might be,
(iii) consumers don't realise how much energy and/or money they could be saving,
(iv) governments have become reluctant to edit consumer choices (ban things!),
(v) the major manufacturers have refused to invest in new lighting technologies until they know that there is going to be a large market for new products,
(vi) energy efficiency has been overlooked as a way of meeting future energy demand,
(vii) Most of the discussion has focused on the building of new energy supplies which are comparatively expensive and time consuming.

This campaign believes that the case for dramatically increasing the use of energy efficient technologies, such as compact fluorescent lamps, needs to be made and that light bulbs offer a good place to start...

Light bulbs are positively associated with bright ideas and change, familiar to everyone and symbolic of the problems facing many other energy efficient technologies.

Tackling the barriers to transforming the light bulb market should also help to initiate conversations about reducing the demand for energy (not just arguing about which types of energy supply to build) and help to demonstrate how markets could be obliged and incentivised to achieve desired outcomes.

Climate change

The large-scale burning of fossil fuels to make energy has resulted in a build up of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere. This is leading to a warming in average global temperatures and altering the behaviour of the world's climate.

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases are thought to have resulted in average global temperatures increasing by 0.7 degrees centigrade.


The UK government's chief scientist has warned that climate change is one the greatest threats to humanity, and there are already many anecdotal reports of unusual changes in the weather - in most regions of the world.

Based on the views of over 1000 climate scientists and complex climate models, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that global temperatures will increase by between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees centigrade by 2100.


The 1.4 degree change is predicted to occur if we do all in our power to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, whilst the 5.8 degree change is anticipated if we continue to behave in the way that we have previously.

Business-as-usual is not an option, and changes in lifestyles and consumption patterns are going to be necessary.

Although technologies which permit humans to produce and use energy more efficiently already exist many have not been adopted. Most societies have instead preferred to put off change, to blame someone else for their problems or to fight wars which appear to guarantee continued access to "cheap" fossil fuels.

They have also imagined that the problem of climate change will go away, affect future generations or that thousands of climate scientists must be wrong...

For understandable reasons humans tend to resist change, to purchase the cheapest solutions to their problems, to lack an awareness of the threat posed by climate change and to condemn governments which address long-term problems.

Individuals can also feel that there is little they can do to address such epic problems.


The solution...
This campaign believes that with relatively little pain a great deal of beneficial change is possible, if only we can find the will to bring it about.

It also believes that the threat posed by climate change is real and immense.

As a result established human behaviours and attitudes need to be challenged, available technologies need to be better utilised and economic and legal frameworks need to be altered so that they better reflect the real costs of wasteful behaviours and technologies.

Alternatives should be offered at cost price, or for free, to the poorest members of society.

Light fittings should be required to use energy efficient lightbulbs wherever possible.

Where alternatives do not exist, the use of non-essential and wasteful equipment should be phased out, wasteful lightbulbs should be taxed more heavily and viable, more efficient, alternatives should be developed.


Some useful advice from the Energy Saving Trust:

To eliminate draughts + wasted heat use an easy-to-fix brush or PVC seal on your exterior doors.

Stop draughts + heat escaping through floorboards and skirting boards by filling gaps with newspaper, beading or sealant.

Make sure your windows are draught proofed. A low cost, short-term alternative to double-glazing would be to tape polythene across window frames.

Heating: Too warm? Turning your thermostat down by 1°C could cut your heating bills by up to 10%. And if you're going away for winter, leave the thermostat on a low setting to provide protection from freezing at minimum cost. Saving: around £30 per year.

Hot water: Of course it should be hot, but it doesn't need to be scalding. For most people, setting the cylinder thermostat at 60°C/140°F is fine for bathing and washing.

Plug it: Always put the plug in your basin or sink. Leaving hot water running straight down the drain really is throwing money away.

Curtains: close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows.
Lights: Always turn them off when you leave a room and adjust your curtains or blinds to let in as much light as possible during the day.

Televisions, videos, stereos, computers + cordless phones: To cut down on wasted energy, avoid leaving appliances on standby and remember not to leave them on charge unnecessarily. But please check the user manual first.

Fridges: Don't leave the door open for longer than necessary, cold air escapes. Avoid putting hot or warm food straight into the fridge by allowing it to cool down first. Defrost your freezer regularly to keep it running efficiently and cheaply. If it tends to frost up quickly, check the door seal. And if you have your fridge next to a cooker or boiler, leave a good gap between them.

Washing machines and tumble dryers: Always wash a full load and if you can't use a half-load or economy programme. Always use the low temperature programme bearing in mind that modern washing powders will be just as effective at lower temperatures. Wring out or spin-drying really wet clothes before putting them into a tumble dryer will save you money, and they dry faster.

Dishwashers: Try and use the low temperature programme, and ensure you wash a full load.


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