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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Recent letters to BTB...
The BTB campaign receives many letters.

I always try to reply to them, but I decided it was about time I posted a few of them so that you could also read a selection of the issues and ideas people send in.

Unsuprisingly, not everyone's a fan!

However, I think it's important to embrace disagreement and to try to find practical solutions which (i) allow meaningful change to be introduced (rather than perpetually postponed), (ii) address the limitations of the energy saving technologies and (iii) provide safeguards for the poor.

Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to bring anything to my attention.

Warmest regards,


Hello Matt,

Our council was still using a large number of 100 watt incandescent bulbs in the council house after months of me moaning at them and sending emails to the council leader. They kept saying they were on the case but nothing changed. I snapped and sent an enforcement notice to them. Although it is not legally enforceable it did get the bulbs changed within a week!

maybe we could do a generic blank template for others who spot old bulbs in council offices. We need to take out the bit about the swimming pool.

Enforcement Notice
to Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council, Town Hall, Coton Road, Nuneaton, CV11 5AA.
Important - This Communication Affects Your Property

This Notice is issued by the Keith Kondakor, a council tax payer of this borough, because it appears to me that there has been a failure to replace obsolete tungsten light bulbs with modern low energy compact florescent ones. Each of the 100 watt light bulbs is wasting the council about £10 of electric per year. Each of the bulbs is causing the release of 1/10th tonne of CO2 per year. A large number of bulbs are in use for a large part of the day. This means £1000s of pounds are being wasted each year and many tonnes of CO2 produced needlessly.

The bulbs are located in the landing and corridors on the first floor or the council house and the centre staircase. They may also be in the council chamber.

Reasons For Issuing This Notice
Officers and the Leader of the council have already been asked to rectify this problem over many months. This notice has been issued as the council is unable to change some light bulbs within a reasonable time. It is regrettable that action has not been taken in a timely fashion.

The council has a duty to spend the money provided to it via the council tax and government grant wisely. It also has duties to minimise it effect on the environment. While these light bulbs effect are small compered to the staggering 1.6 million kWh of electric used at the leisure centre, it does show a culture of inactivity from the council. A separate enforcement notice will be produced if action is not taken to reduce waste at other locations as the details become available.

What You Are Required To Do
Within the next 14 days you are expected to replace the light bulbs in question with energy efficient replacements. If you are unable to do this you need a produce evidence as to why this is not possible and a timetable of when it can be achieved.

What if you do not Comply
I will attend the Council House with low energy light bulbs, a ladder and any press that are interested and attempt to rectify the problem myself.

Your Right Of Appeal
I will operate a version of the councils own bureaucracy on any appeal you wish to make. Please make any appeal in writing within 7 days of this notice.


Keith Kondakor

Hi Matt,

Thank you for a thought-provoking website. I agree that CFLs must be the future of lighting, though sites advocating their use still advise them mainly for areas where they will be switched on for a reasonable length of time. My main problem with CFLs is the variation in performance between different manufacturer's products. A filament bulb tends to be a filament bulb, whoever makes it, but with CFLs there is a great variation in warm-up time, light output and colour temperature.

My first experience with CFLs was when a local energy company was handing them out for users to try. This experience nearly put me off them for life - very slow to reach maximum output, dim and a foul colour. I recently tried again when I realised my kitchen had 6 x 60W of R63 spotlights recessed in to the ceiling. My first choice of a low energy replacement was not very successful, but then I found the Megaman
range that changed my mind. Fairly rapid ramp up to max brightness and good colour rendering, though rather expensive.

I don't know how people can be advised on which brands to buy if, like me, they are put off by cheap, but unsatisfactory, products. Packaging that lists time to, say, time to 90% of full output, colour temperature, and output in lumens is not going to be meaningful to many potential customers.

While you are campaigning, is there any chance of banning the bayonet cap bulb holder? They are always fitted to pendants in houses, which, apart from them being poorly designed and dangerous when the bayonets dig into the bulb's solder and stop it rotating, means that I frequently have to keep two versions of the same bulb as spares. Also, it means there are several CFLs I cannot use as they are only available with ES caps. I did attempt to buy replacement ES bulb holders for some of my pendants, but the wholesale and trade companies I tried did not stock such exotic items.


Mike Ratcliff

Dear Matt,

Whilst I acknowledge that CFL's make sense in the majority of cases, there are still some legitimate uses for the incandescent bulb. These include locations (such as in a loft or cupboard) where the light is only required for a small proportion of time. In such cases, the additional energy required in the manufacture of the CFL is unlikely to be recouped in the lower running costs. Also, the warm up time (especially in a well insulated loft) can be problematic, even with modern CFLs. (I know, as I have tried it). Have you replaced the light in your 'fridge with a CFL?

Also, the blanket statement that the heat generated by the bulb is wasted is not true. If it is cold enough to run the heating (no firm figures, but I guess 50% of the time in the UK) then the heat from the bulb is replacing heat that would otherwise have been generated by the heating system. I agree that using electricity is not the most efficient way to heat a home, but it is not wasted.

Finally, there is the issue of aesthetics. CFLs look pretty stupid in a cut crystal chandelier and they do not provide the point source required to generate the sparkle. Even pearl bulbs do not work in a chandelier for this reason.

I do not expect to see any of these arguments in favour of the old bulb on your website, as you are obviously on a crusade and they do not suit your argument. However, I am always more likely to believe someone who puts both sides of the argument.


Paul Carlier, FIEE