The Ban The Bulb energy efficiency campaign is one of Dr Matt Prescott's environmental projects  | Contact BTB  
     Energy Saving Day (E-Day) | Oxford Earth Summit | Earth Summit Info | Environmental Rating Agency | "Heat" | 100 Years
                   Please contact Matt if you would like to support Ban The Bulb or next year's Energy Saving Day (E-Day) 
              A campaign to save money and help the environment by using energy efficient light bulbs

Monday, January 28, 2008

China : co-ordinated efforts to make CFLs 90% cheaper
The China Daily has published a report which says that National Development and Reform Commission has established a subsidy for the makers of energy saving light bulbs which will reduce the cost of 150 million compact fluorescent lamps by 2010.

Additional subsidies by Beijing's municipal government and district governments mean that CFLs will soon be available in Beijing for only 10% of their original cost.

Energy-saving light bulbs do save energy, but many residents refuse to use them simply because they are several times more expensive than the traditional versions. They do not see the long-term benefits of saving energy, focusing instead on the bulbs' higher up-front costs.

Still, people really cannot be blamed for this situation. They need to be persuaded to see the long-term benefits of adopting such technology.

A new scheme set up by the National Development and Reform Commission to subsidize the makers of energy-saving light bulbs will cut the prices of such bulbs in half, bringing them to a level that consumers will be able to accept.

It is estimated that the price cuts will unleash the sale of 150 million energy-efficient light bulbs to residents and working units in the remaining three years of the 11th-Five-Year Plan period (2006-10). As a result, carbon dioxide emissions are projected to fall by 29 million tons.

The program is a great idea indeed. It will not only help the country hit its goal of cutting energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent and reducing polluting emissions by 10 percent by the end of 2010, but it will also support the central government's plan to return money to taxpayers in the form of benefits.

Meanwhile, Beijing's municipal government will subsidize an additional 30 percent worth of price cuts, and district governments will contribute another 10 percent, making energy-saving light bulbs just a tenth of their original cost.

Beijing will implement the scheme on trial basis in its downtown West District, with the goal of getting all families use the bulbs. The authorities hope the cheap prices will bring this target within easy reach.

Beijing has undoubtedly set a good example for the rest of the country. It is hoped that other provinces and cities will follow suit.

In a country with a population of 1.3 billion people, getting every single person to voluntarily take part in the campaign to save energy will have a huge impact on the amount of resources consumed and therefore the amount of pollution produced.

Looked at from this perspective, the plan to put energy-saving light bulbs in every home should represent a massive effort on the part of the public to protect the environment.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Sun: light bulb distribution project a big success
In a high innovative collaboration which involved Scottish and Southern Energy, Tesco and CoolNRG, the UK's biggest newspaper, The Sun, has distributed 4 million energy saving light bulbs in a single day.

Their special offer was heavily promoted for the week leading up to the distribution of light bulbs last Saturday.

This is one of the best examples in the world of a media organisation using its ability to communicate with large numbers of people to explain the benefits of using energy saving light bulbs and helping ordinary people to become actively involved in efforts to tackle climate change.

Congratulations to The Sun for doing something different, which was such a huge success!

Their innovation even helped them to increase their circulation by 10% to 4 million. This isn't anything to be sniffed at, especially in an era of declining newspaper circulations.

This is how the Media Guardian reported on what happened:

Saturday's edition of the Sun, which offered readers two free green lightbulbs, was a promotional success, boosting circulation to nearly 4m copies.

Sales soared by 408,000 copies compared with the previous Saturday after the Sun offered readers two free energy-saving lightbulbs, which they could pick up at newsagents and supermarkets selling the paper.

On Saturday the Sun normally sells in the region of 3.5m copies, but Saturday's sale was 3,908,000.

"We practically sold out," one Sun executive said. "We are gobsmacked."

The Sun turned half of its front page green for the promotion, which offered the eco-friendly lightbulbs to readers who bought the paper at more than 4,000 independent newsagents and stores including Tesco, Asda, WH Smith, Sainsbury's, Somerfield and Morrisons.

"Help save the world - and £13 into the bargain," the paper told readers, saying that the £4 pack of light bulbs, provided by Southern Electric, could lead to power bill savings of £9 annually for each reader.

The Sun also offered readers the chance to win an eco-friendly Toyota Prius Hybrid.

Last July, when the Mail on Sunday gave away Prince's new unreleased CD, Planet Earth, the paper sold an extra 600,000 copies, hitting a circulation of 2,800,846.

But the following week it lost most of those extra sales, selling only 31,000 copies above its base sale the week before the giveaway.

Last weekend the Daily Mail attempted a spoiler, offering readers two free energy saving bulbs "worth £6".

But the Mail failed to put in place a distribution deal and readers had to send for their bulbs in the post.

The Sun's promotion could not have been better timed to impress News International's new boss, James Murdoch, who arrived at the company from BSkyB in December.

Earlier this month Murdoch pledged to make News International carbon neutral.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Migraines, rashes, peer-reviewed science?

Dear BBC,

I am very disappointed that you have not asked for any peer-reviewed science to support the claims that compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) "worsen rashes" or "cause migraines".

These are very big and broad anecdotal claims, which have not been substantiated scientifically. Yet your headlines create the clear impression that the views expressed by individuals, interest groups and 'experts' can be treated as though they were robust statements of fact.

I run the Ban The Bulb campaign ( and have asked for carefully enforced evidence-based medical exemptions for two years (please see my campaign goals), yet I must report that I have not found, or been sent, any science which backs up the claims made by migraine sufferers.

It is well known that migraines can be caused by stress, food and daylight, so saying that CFLs are responsible for light-sensitive medical conditions, while ignoring all of the other everyday triggers is a significant claim to make and grossly unscientific.

It would not be difficult to conduct experiments which compared the effects of CFLs on control and experimental groups as part of a properly designed medical trial and to publish the results in the form of a peer-reviewed article within a credible journal.

Similarly, the claims that rashes are worsened by CFLs assumes that someone is using very outdated fluorescent tubes. Fortunately the technologies incorporated into a CFL have moved on since they were first made available in large numbers, over 30 years ago.

The Ban The Bulb campaign has asked for better information on the boxes of CFLs and for better procedures to recycle the 4-6mg of mercury contained within each lamp ever since the campaign was established (in Feb 2005) so I appreciate your highlighting of this issue.

Overall, however, I wish that you had applied the same rigour and sceptism to these medical claims as you have devoted to interrogating the science available for climate change.

Please see my articles for BBC News Online's Green Room if you want to find out about the positive environmental benefits of using low energy light bulbs, in terms of reducing greenhouse gas and mercury emissions into the atmosphere or why 30 countries have now agreed to phase out
the use of incandescent light bulbs.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Matt Prescott
Director, Ban The Bulb

Even the Today Programme enjoyed a good kick at the erstwhile low energy light bulb...

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Letter to Editor of The Guardian : Lionel Shriver column
Ban The Bulb has sent the following letter to the Editor of The Guardian following the publication of an article by a columnist called Lionel Shriver.

Dear Sir,

I am writing as a result of the column published by Lionel Shriver on Thursday 3 January, 2008.

Having successfully proposed the banning of incandescent light bulbs as an easy first step in our efforts to reduce the waste of energy, cut carbon emissions and save money I was very disappointed that The Guardian decided to publish so many unfair and ill-informed comments.

I understand that Lionel was only writing a frivolous and light-hearted column, but I still feel that it was extremely harmful of your newspaper to suggest that there are no compact fluorescent lamps that could produce a decent quality of light and that it was a good idea to stockpile wasteful incandescent light bulbs.

Lionel was right when she said that a 20 watt compact fluorescent lamp (CFLs) takes more energy (4kWh) to make than an equivalent incandescent light bulb (1kWh). However, she failed to mention that a CFL also lasted 6-15 times longer (6000-15000 hours) and used 80 watts less electricity for every moment of it's life.

In addition, a good quality CFL, with pleasant light properties and a high level of build quality and performance, could save its owner £45 - £130 of electricity over it's lifetime while only costing 60p - £4.00 more to buy.

Please see the following review of different designs of compact fluorescent lamp, which I recently wrote for your own newspaper.

As with all things if you buy a cheap CFL, which relies on basic and old technologies, you might not get the performance you would like. This does not mean that better and more aesthetically pleasing CFLs are not available.

The mercury recycling issue associated with CFLs does indeed need to be more adequately addressed by retailers and city councils, but the excess electricity used to power an incandescent releases almost three times more mercury into the atmosphere than the 4mg contained within a CFL. At least with a CFL the mercury is contained and the option of recycling exists.

Lionel was also right to say that there are reasons to be concerned by the lack of detail and urgency in the UK government's and the EU's proposals to phase out and ban incandescent light bulbs.

If light bulbs bans cannot be coherently implemented in a rapid and successful fashion how are we ever going to phase out any of the bigger and more problematic technologies which also waste vast amounts of energy unnecessarily?

Personally, I am extremely worried by the lighting industry's calls for 10+ years to achieve the 60-70% energy savings which are already possible with today's CFLs (and which I might add will shortly be beaten by LEDs).

The manufacturers have invested in high-efficiency incandescents which use 30% less electricity than today's incandescents and understandably they want to see a return on this investment, but this does not mean we should settle for half the energy savings that are already possible.

I would therefore have liked to have seen Lionel use her public platform to call for technology neutral performance criteria which allowed CFLs to become the new minimum standard.

If this was the case that there can be little doubt that plenty of new and better lighting technologies would be developed and used within 3-5 years.

Incandescents were invented over 120 years ago, and could be replaced by many superior technologies if only the right regulations and financial incentives were put in place.

Saying that all CFLs are rubbish and that there are no decent alternatives to incandescents is factually incorrect and could slow the uptake of the many energy efficient technologies, which the latest climate change science tells us need to be brought to market as soon and widely as possible.

As things stand, the proposed domestic light bulb bans are going to be phased in over several years and it will cost billions more to produce extra electricity needed to continue powering ever more incandescents and halogen spot lights, by building new power stations, than it will
to change the small proportion of the country's energy guzzling light fittings which cannot accommodate CFLs or LEDs.

I haven't even attempted to calculate costs associated with the impacts of climate change or our need to secure energy supplies from some of the most unstable countries and regions in the world, but these costs definitely shouldn't be ignored by those who say they cannot be bothered to
change their light bulbs.

Until a light bulb ban was proposed and defended on hard-headed technological, economic and scientific grounds many people had the same prejudices as Lionel.

To date, over 30 countries (including the members of the EU, the US, China and Australia) have had a look at the available lighting technologies and decided that the case for the modest and painless banning of domestic incandescent light bulbs stacks up.

The UK's ban of incandescents will reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 2-3 million tonnes, similarly the EU's annual emissions will be reduced by 23 million tonnes while the Chinese government's decision to stop manufacturing 70% of the world's incandescent light bulbs will reduce the world's annual carbon emissions by even more.

I sincerely hope that you will consider balancing Lionel's personal comments by highlighting some of the ways in which CFLs and other energy saving technologies could become more widely used and, with the minimum of sacrifice, play a significant part in our efforts to tackle
climate change.

Warmest regards


Dr Matt Prescott
Director, Ban The Ban

Labels: ,

UK plans to phase out 150W, 100W, 60W : update
In September 2007 the UK's retailers agreed to stop replacing their stock of 150W incandescent light bulbs in Jan 2008, so I thought it might be a good idea to post exactly what was announced by the UK government and the country's retailers following a collaboration with the big energy utilities.

In summary, in Jan 2008, we can expect to see the retailers voluntarily stopping the replacement of 150W domestic incandescents.

Assuming all goes well at the UK and EU levels, 100W incandescent will then stop being sold in Jan 2009, 60W incandescents will stop being sold in 2010, and the more difficult to replace designs of light bulb will be given longer to cease being sold.

Binding EU-wide ban proposals are due to be tabled in 2009 and then expected to start coming into force during 2011 or 2012.

Ref: 328/07
Date: 27 September 2007

Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR
Out of hours telephone 020 7270 8960
Energy guzzling lightbulbs phase out to start next year

The most energy-guzzling light bulbs in Britain will start disappearing from shop shelves early next year as part of efforts to cut CO2 emissions, Secretary of State for the Environment Hilary Benn said today.

This voluntary initiative, which is being led by major retailers and energy suppliers, will see energy efficient light bulbs replace their least efficient equivalents on shop shelves over the next four years.

Its aim is to save up to 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2012 from UK electricity generation – the equivalent to the carbon emissions of a typical 1 Giga Watt coal fired power station.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced in March, while Chancellor of the Exchequer, his aim for the UK to be one of the first countries to phase out inefficient light bulbs and set an ambitious target date to achieve that by the end of 2011, ahead of possible actions by the EU to ban these products altogether.

Secretary of State Hilary Benn said:

"Britain is leading the way in getting rid of energy-guzzling light bulbs and helping consumers reduce their carbon footprint. Choosing energy saving light bulbs can help tackle climate change, and also cut household bills, with each bulb saving up to £60 over its lifetime.

"I am delighted that major companies have said they are prepared to help deliver this ambitious timetable and offer products which will help their own customers play their part in combating climate change.

"But there are many more energy hungry gadgets on sale in shops that waste too much energy. That's why I want to see today's initiative widened. I want to see more retailers, manufacturers and service providers taking action to phase out the least efficient products from their ranges, for example, certain set top boxes and TVs, and so help offer greener choices to their customers."

Kevin Hawkins, Director General of the British Retail Consortium said:

"Retailers are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and play an active role in helping consumers reduce their own environmental impact. This is just the latest in a number of initiatives in which retailers are helping to shape consumer habits through the promotion
of energy saving products. We look forward to working closely with Government and manufacturers in the lead up to the 2011 deadline to ensure the supply of energy saving light bulbs matches demand, and that they become a viable alternative to conventional light bulbs for consumers of all incomes"

Keven Verdun, Chief Executive of the Lighting Association said:

'The UK lighting suppliers strongly support the Government's ambition in this initiative. For many years the European lamp industry has promoted the benefits of phasing out energy inefficient light bulbs. In June 2007 the industry presented its own proposals for EU legislation to phase out inefficient light bulbs across the whole of Europe, commencing 2009. We welcome the positive support of governments for this transition to more efficient lighting technologies which we believe can make a substantial contribution to reducing our energy consumption and CO2 emissions."

Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust said:

"We fully support the idea of phasing out inefficient lighting in favour of energy efficient light-bulbs. In most homes, lighting accounts for 10 – 15% of the electricity bill and UK households currently use £1.8 billion worth of electricity every year on lighting. An energy saving light bulb can last up to 10 times longer than a non-efficient version. Just one energy saving bulb could save up to £7 a year, fit all the lights in your house with energy saving
bulbs and you could save around £600 over the lifetime of the bulbs. If everyone in the UK installed three energy saving lightbulbs, we would save enough energy to power all the UK's street lighting for a year."

Duncan Sedgwick, Chief Executive of the Energy Retail Association, said:

"Britain's major energy suppliers welcome this move and are committed to distributing low energy light bulbs to households across the country over this period. This is building on the 43 million low energy light bulbs that they have already distributed through their current energy efficiency commitment."

Energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and contribute to tackling climate change because they use only a fifth to a quarter of the electricity of ordinary bulbs to generate the same amount of light.

CFLs are also cost effective. Advice from the Energy Saving Trust suggests that because it will last up to 10 times longer than a traditional bulb, just one energy saving bulb could save up to £7 a year and, depending on the length of time lights are in use every day, could save around £60 before it needs replacing. Fit all the lights in your house with energy saving bulbs and you could save around £600 over the lifetime of the bulbs.

In the UK £140 million a year is wasted by leaving lights switched on unnecessarily. This causes 900,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Each house currently has on average around 23.5 light bulbs.

Notes to editors

1. The Government has proposed, as an illustrative schedule for the phase out of inefficient lamps, that retailers might want to follow:

* By January 2008, cease replacing stock of all inefficient (General Lighting Service, GLS) A-shaped incandescent lamps of energy rating higher than 100W (predominantly 150W lamps).

* By January 2009, cease selling all inefficient GLS A-shaped lamps of energy rating higher than 60W (predominantly 150W lamps, 100W lamps, plus some 75W lamps)

* By January 2010, cease selling all GLS A-shaped lamps of efficacy of energy rating higher than 40W (predominantly 60W lamps)

* By 31 December 2011, cease selling all remaining inefficient GLS A-shaped lamps and 60W "candle" and "golfball" lamps. (predominantly 40W and 25W A-shaped GLS bulbs, and 60W candles and golfballs).

At the moment, we expect candles and golfballs, tungsten halogen lamps and lamps supplied with non-lighting electrical appliances to remain on sale, because suitable energy-efficient alternatives do not currently exist.

2. The following retailers support this initiative: ASDA, B&Q, The Co-operative Group, Home Retail Group (Argos and Homebase), IKEA, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Somerfield, Tesco, Waitrose, Wickes, Woolworths, British Retail Consortium, Association of Convenience Stores and the British Hardware Federation. It is also being promoted through the major energy companies as part of their activities through the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT).

3. The next phase is that the Government will be issuing a public consultation paper on the detailed analysis, targets and standards that we would like to achieve for domestic lighting products in the UK, with a view to updating the illustrative phase out schedule above.

4. The EU is expected to bring forward its proposals for lighting measures under the Framework Directive for the Eco-design of Energy Using Products (the EUP Directive). Implementing measures will set specific and potentially compulsory standards for several of the least efficient street, office/industry and domestic lighting products destined for the European market in order that they meet energy efficiency, as well as other, requirements. Proposals for street and office lighting are due to be agreed by the end of 2008. Work on the domestic lighting begun at the beginning of June. The Commission is expected to table a proposal by the end of 2009.

5. Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock today also wrote to retailers to progress the initiative announced in Budget 2006 to encourage more energy efficient set top boxes and other consumer electronics, including setting targets to reduce stand-by power.

6. Defra launched its ActOnCO2 carbon calculator as a public trial version on 20 June. There have been over 300,000 visits so far. The calculator helps people make the link between their own actions and climate change. Individuals or households can calculate the carbon footprint resulting from their home, appliances and personal travel using Government
approved data and methodologies. Users can also receive a personalised action plan with tips for reducing their carbon emissions. The calculator takes account of lighting in its home section.

7. Under the Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC), electricity and gas suppliers are required to meet targets for the promotion of improvements in household energy efficiency. They do this by encouraging householders to take up measures like cavity wall and loft insulation and energy efficient lights. The current phase of EEC is from 2005-08 and the Government has recently consulted on the third phase, to be called the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target, from April 2008 to March 2011. At least 10 million households received measures under the first phase of EEC (2002-05), which stimulated £600m of investment in energy efficiency and delivered net benefits to householders in excess of £3 billion. It will achieve carbon savings of around 1.1 MtC02 annually by 2010. EEC2 is at broadly double the level of EEC1 and is expected to save around 1.8 MtC02 annually by 2010. CERT is proposed to roughly double the activity under EEC2 and is expected to achieve an annual saving of about 4.0 MtCO2 by 2010.

8. The European Lamp Companies' Federation proposal for Domestic lighting, published June 2007 ( – Latest News), sets out the EU industry's full position and proposals to the European Commission for EU legislation regarding the phase out of inefficient bulbs. These proposals are intended to allow time for a smooth switch to high-efficiency halogen and compact fluorescent lamps and the development of LED and high efficiency incandescent lamps. Contact
Jarita Christie, ELC Public Affairs Manager on +32 485 890 070 for further information.

Labels: , , ,