City Hippy

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Friday, March 03, 2006

FEATURE: Lights. Standby. Efficiency.

As I switched on my long life, energy saving lightbulb this morning, I had no idea I was being a revolutionary. I just wanted to find my slippers. It is such a shame that this simple task is not replicated across all homes and businesses. And I am not talking about the slippers.

Whilst the cost of a long life, energy saving bulb can seem steep, when you look at it’s lifespan; as well as the environmental cost – it really is lunacy to keep buying those cheap multi packs.

If you replace an ordinary 100W lightbulb with a high quality 20W CFL (compact fluorescent) costing about £3-£5, you get roughly the same amount of light for almost a fifth of the electricity for 15 times longer than incandescents. One CFL will save 1,200 KWh of electricity, worth approximately £100 – that £3-£5 is not looking so steep now eh?

Don't just blame the lightbulbs though
Britons waste the equivalent of around two power stations' worth of electricity each year by leaving TV sets and other gadgets on standby. In June 2005 Environment Minister Elliot Morley, responding to an MP's question, revealed that electrical equipment in sleep mode used roughly 7TWh of energy and emitted around 800,000 tonnes of carbon.

It has been calculated that the CO2 emissions from electrical equipment being left on standby is equivalent to 1.4 million long-haul flights. A survey by the Energy Saving Trust found that the average household has up to 12 gadgets left on standby or charging at any one time. It also showed that more than £740m of electricity was wasted by things being left ticking over.

Estimated annual CO2 emissions from devices left on standby:
  • Stereos - 1,600,000 tonnes
  • Video players - 960,000 tonnes
  • TVs - 480,000 tonnes
  • Games Consoles - 390,000 tonnes
  • DVD players - 100,000 tonnes
  • Set-top boxes - 60,000 tonnes
(Source: Energy Saving Trust)

Will they see the light?
The path then is clear for a government apparently concerned with climate change and energy efficiency and security issues: remove VAT on all energy efficient lightbulbs (the government is considering an extra tax on energy inefficient light bulbs) and kill the UK's standby culture. Hardly revolutionary stuff. Maybe then we would need one less of the new Nuclear power stations they have agreed to might be building in 10 years time.


Rebecca @

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At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The house I just moved into has mostly ordinary lightbulbs. Should I immediately replace the ordinary ones (before they burn out) or would that be wasteful? Hope this isn't a stupid question, but it's something I've been wondering about for a while.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger City Hippy said...

Good question and thanks for asking it.

My advice would be to wait until the existing bulbs need replacing and then move over to energy efficient.

Anyone think different?



At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'd say replace the lightbulbs immediately, if only because it's nice not to have to think about replacing them for ten years. :D but if i had to drag up another reason - throwing them away isn't wasteful because they would have been thrown away at some point anyway, & you may as well decimate your energy costs for the few months they'd last.

also, the 'pound shop' in our town has 15W bulbs for, um, a pound apiece. they're not QUITE as longlife (the packet says 6x) but still, bargain.

At 8:50 PM, Anonymous beev said...

Buy some CFs and put them in the lights you use for long periods at a time. Use up all your old incandescent ones in places where you are only switching them on for a moment and you want them to be bright straight away. Cupboards, for example.

At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say a belated thank you for the advice. I'll keep reading the blog. :-)

At 10:57 PM, Blogger City Hippy said...

Good advice Beev...thanks to you all for a great thread!




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