Dave's Eco-nomics: Light-bulb moment


Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

You can't fault Thomas Edison. His incandescent light bulb has been making our night trips to the loo more palatable for well over a century. But these are carbon-conscious times, and 85% of the energy consumed by the average bulb is given off as waste heat. The International Energy Agency reckons nearly a fifth of all electricity used goes into lighting, with commercial and public buildings the chief users. And light pollution increased 24% from 1993 to 2000, says the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, clouding our contemplation of the firmament. But it won't take a bright spark like Edison to improve things.


The Government aims to phase out Edison's model by 2011 and urges a switch to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). These use at least 60% less electricity, last far longer and don't get so hot. And they could halt the release of 2.3 million tonnes of CO2 every year. Some moan about their light quality and say the inclusion of circuitry and mercury hardly makes for a green product. But CFLs are the best option while LED technology stays expensive. Try cutting consumption. Envirowise says better use of daylight can trim office lighting bills by 19%. Use lower ambient lighting, with more at workstations, and sensors that switch off lights when a room is empty; and switch off at night.


FIVE: it takes a little more than the flick of a switch.

- Dave Waller is MT's resident eco-luminary.

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