How Many Australian Politicians Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?

from the no-joke dept

A few weeks back, we noted that a California state politician was thinking about banning incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy efficient fluorescent bulbs. Of course, we didn’t understand why it needed legal backing. Fluorescent bulbs offer plenty of advantages in terms of using a lot less energy and lasting a lot longer. Some people still don’t like the light they give off, but they’re getting better all the time. Given some education on the issue, it seems only natural that people will increasingly move towards fluorescent bulbs on their own, without bothering with pointless legislation. However, apparently that’s not good enough for Australia, where the government has announced similar plans to ban the sale of incandescent bulbs in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as cut household power bills. Of course, as a few people in the article point out, switching to fluorescent bulbs shouldn’t really have much of an effect on greenhouse gases, so that’s not the best reasoning. And, still, no one is explaining why this needs legislation when it’s likely to happen all by itself as people become better educated on how they can save money with fluorescent bulbs.

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Comments on “How Many Australian Politicians Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?”

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Matthew (user link) says:

Shed some light...

Incandescent bulbs are dramatically less expensive and will be for a long time. The ‘first cost’ versus ‘life cycle cost’ is seldom understood by Joe Normal in the check out aisle. The law prevents stores from selling them which prevents Joe Normal from going to cheap route at the expense of, well, everybody else. Makes even more sense in AU considering they can simply preven the rouge incandescents from ever reaching the stores.

dorpus says:

Mercury Poisoning

Incandescent bulbs contain mercury. This generation is too young to remember the horrors of mercury poisoning, which was a serious problem 30 years ago. Mercury is an element and never “breaks down” — in fact, the environment causes elemental mercury to methylate and turn more toxic.

Effects of mercury:

Joe Smith says:


I have some flourescents in my house – it is not clear that they last longer or at least that they last long enough to justify the high cost.

One thing that flourescents can’t do is be tied to a dimmer switch. There is going to be a market out there for LED lights that can respond to a (digital?) dimmer switch.

Petréa Mitchell says:

Re: Dimmer

Amen– my household is back on incandescents after trying fluorescents and discovering that they don’t last any longer. (At least not the brands we tried. Any converts want to recommend one?)

I have high hopes for LED lighting now that it looks like they can get decent white light out of an LED…

Dosquatch says:

Re: Re: Dimmer

These are the best I’ve found, sold under the brands “n:vision” and “Consumer Electric”. They come in several color temperatures, including soft white, bright white, and daylight. They’re as completely color-true as conventional bulbs, but they’re pretty darn close.

High points:

  • Instant on. There’s a warm-up period (about a minute) where they get progressively brighter, but there’s not the typical 1 or 2 second lag for them to kick in when you flip a switch.
  • No annoying buzz!
  • They can live as long as the packaging claims, definitely longer than conventional lighting, though dirty power dramatically cuts into their lifespan.
  • Dimmable!! They do have dimmable models, as well as 3-way bulbs

I’ve tried a LOT of fluorescents. Quality is all over the board. These are flat-out the closest to conventional bulbs I’ve found.

Fair warning: the link at the top is to Home Depot. I’m trying to find the manufacturer’s website. You’d think it would be easier than this.

Avatar28 says:

Re: Re: Re: Dimmer

I too use those bulbs from Home Depot and I really love them. Particularly the bright white ones. They give off a nice, white light. Much whiter than most incandescents, which I don’t like due to the yellowish light. They also don’t flicker at all. I believe that most decent CF bulbs now use a much higher frequency in the hundreds of hertz region.

I will be the first to say that the soft white CF lights (of any type) suck IMHO. But these bright white are simply awesome. I have been working on replacing all the lights in my home with them. the only problem I have is that the bigger ones (100-130 wattt equivalent) won’t fit inside some of the single light fixtures of the ceiling fans in the kids rooms. I got my parents to try them on some of their lamps and they are also sold. I believe I will continue to use these until LED bulbs come down in price and increase in output. They are already exceeding CF in efficiency, they just don’t have enough output yet still due to heatsinking issues.

The Swiss Cheese Monster says:

If we create a law banning the traditional light bulb, then we will need a new government program for all of the people who are too poor to spend the money on the more expensive light bulb, which means more paperwork, more laws, and more office space.

Not to mention all of the medical programs that would have to be created to further research people who have fluorescent related seizures and government programs designed to subsidize incandescent light for those with medical problems that prevent them from being able to live in a fluorescent environment.

So in the end, with such laws in place, are we really that much ahead?

zcat (user link) says:

Got 'em

Replaced almost every bulb in the house six or seven years ago, buying two or three bulbs each week until we’d replaced them all. The only regular ones left are the fridge, oven, microwave, and Sue’s touch-lamp.

Some brands are shit (edapt) but the Philips spiral ones from the warehouse seem to last a long time and are quite affordable. They do take a while to ‘warm up’ and they don’t work with dimmers and touch-switches, which is a bit of a pain. Other than that they’re just like regular light bulbs.

AFAIK regular bulbs (for fridges, stage lighting, lava-lamps) will still be available, just that the ‘ordinary lightbulbs’ that you buy in the supermarket will all be CF.

Geoff says:

Re: Got 'em

I agree the EDAPTs are crap.
I took one back for exchange yesterday describing it as like living in a cave & the replacement is little if any better.
It’s running here now & it’s the reason for me searching for data on them.
Others I have in the kitchen ( a different brand ) are quite OK but this supposed equivalent to my 100W filament is pathetic.

Captain Crash (user link) says:

Australian Politicians

I believe fluorescent bulb is more effective way to control green house effect. They are energy efficient and long lasting. Though direct effect of its on green house emission can not be proven easily but it is a small drop in a big ocean. And lots of small drop make a big ocean. It is a good idea to change from the ordinary bulb to fluorescent bulb.

William Burgess says:

Light bulbs

I love florescent bulbs, and use them whenever I can. That said, there are some important points to know…
1.) They don’t like cold. While the newer ones will work in the cold, they take at least several minutes to get to full brightness. (Great for a dark activated post lamp, but no good for a motion activated security light!)
2.) You tend to get what you pay for. Cheaper ones don’t give out the light and tend to burn out.
3.) THEY CONTAIN MERCURY!! They need to be properly disposed of, not just pitched into the trash! We need to set up a good waste stream and educate people before legislating to increase their use.

shane says:


i have recently begun switching to fluorescent bulbs because my local hardware store, which is usually over-priced, was selling them with an instant rebate reducing the cost to less than $1. it says it is a nation wide rebate offer from GE , an innovative leader in the reduction of dangerous emissions in the u.s. and worldwide. the bulbs do take a second to come on and a few minutes to warm up but the light they cast is pleasant, not white like most florescent bulbs. i have used both 60 watt and 75 watt equivalent bulbs that actually use 15 and 20 watts respectively. i have only been using them for a few months but my father first switched several years ago and he says the GE brand last much longer than other brands, therefore the small increase in initial expense is easily made up over time and the fact they use less than one third the energy of incandescent bulbs makes them much better for our environment.

as for small drops make a big ocean, imagine if one million homes switched six bulbs each that normally would require 360 watts total to the fluorescent bulbs totaling 90 watts the total energy saved would be 270,000,000 watts. imagine if all 70,000,000 households did it, the number would be more like 19,000,000,000.

Ryan says:

not a good idea

It really is not a good idea to ban them outright. There are many things that require incandescent bulbs for the heat. How are Austrailians going to use their easy-bakes and lava lamps now? Guess theyll have to go without. I myself make sure I use MOSTLY fluorescent bulbs, tho there are a few that aren’t. If they had fluorescent bulbs that LOOKED like incandescent ones, that wud be even better, since incandescent bulbs look better.

Alucardbsm says:

This is mostly wrong...

I’m surprised at you Mike. You should know that California has been one of the leading states in not only the support of a cleaner environment, it has been pushing it forward at a rate higher than any other state.

The change from incandescent bulbs to fluorescent bulbs may not be a large change in single bulb, or a single house, but when and if the state changes lightbulbs completely, there will be a large amount of power being that was being used is no longer. The largest amount of greenhouse pollution does not come from vehicles but instead the power plants used to generate electricity. Reducing the amount of energy we use will reduce greenhouse gas. If you had everyone change light bulbs right now, there would be a noticeable effect, even though your article said otherwise. Over time we may not be able to tell the difference because the amount of cars on the road is still climbing.

Another point you make is that people will change when they become “better educated”. People aren’t educated nor will they want to be. They want to go down to the hardware store and get a light bulb that gives off light. Most people don’t care or won’t care about the difference between the two light bulbs. This won’t happen on its own and if you want to reduce the amount of greenhouse emissions then this is a viable route.

After reading this article it felt like the entire piece was ignorant on real issues, such as your stance that the difference in lightbulbs has no effect on global warming. Maybe you should rethink your stance on this. At least double think it.

technofear (profile) says:

Nothing to do with saving Energy

This has NOTHING to do with saving energy.

It is simply politial posturing by Malcom Turnbull.

Soon John Howard will resign or have to leave if he loses the next election (in 9 months).

Abott, Costello and Turnbull will fight it out to become the new leader of the Liberal party. (no joke with the names BTW….)

Turnbull is new and needs to catch up, hence the photo ops with kids showing how his policy will make the world greener for them.

kiwi says:

Re: Nothing to do with saving Energy

Quite right.

In addition, Howard has looked like a moron with his denial of the effects of green house gases on global warming.

Last week there were survey results showing that global warming is a major issue for this election.

So, what can he do that takes no effort, and makes it look like he cares about the environment, without affecting the Australian coal industry too much? Light Bulbs.

Should save Aussie 880,000 tonnes of gasses a year. Which sounds great until you find out that Australia generates 540 million tonnes a year!

It is all PR and election marketing.

Crikey says:


The article says: “.. switching to fluorescent bulbs shouldn’t really have much of an effect on greenhouse gases ..”

The change will (1) save 800 million tonnes of CO2 per year. This is good.

(2) It will save the equivalent of one coal fired power station from the national grid, at least that’s what the Greenies Party says.

And (3) plants have bulbs, lights use globs. If you’re going to slander my nation, at least slander it correctly.

The author would be American, right?

a says:

Stop buying crap and you will have a better light bulb.

I love them suckers. I replaced all my 60 watt max bulbs in the basement with 100w equivilent ones with bright sunlight settings. My basement is much brighter now and I use less energy. So far they have lasted twice as long as what I used to use.

As for not liking the cold, I have two of them outside that are turned on infrequently and they work fine, on right away, the cold has not had an affect on them at all, and we have had some cold days here in NJ.

I would put them in all our lights, but the wife doesn’t like them, so they are only in the basement and closets.

Yeah, and you do need laws, because people are stupid. Thats why we don’t use leaded gas anymore.

MyNameIsMatt (user link) says:

Sometimes markets need a push

I’m all for the markets controlling progress, but sometimes that just isn’t happening. For the most part, people haven’t changed because the quality isn’t yet equal for most brands. Plus, when people talk about cost savings, most people don’t really care about saving an extra $30 a year. However, from the government’s perspective, that $30 is a lot of money, and in CA where we have such a strained grid that gets pushed often, that overall drop in demand is a big deal.

So, I feel for people who complain about quality. I’m in that boat too, but since some commenters seem to have found a good brand, I’m not that concerned, and anyway, boo hoo for those people (which includes me admittedly). Tough life. You still have light, and for those with special needs, then get what you need. However, there will be very little significant suffering from laws that push progress in this area, and the governments and communities as a whole will see the benefit more than the individual, which is why governments may need to push progress instead of the market (as this is possibly a failure in the market to drive progress).

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