Light Bulb Ban is Dim Idea

Blog, Environment, Les Routledge

Starting in 2012, the Government of Canada proposes to start the process that will effectively ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs.

In general, it is believed that compact fluorescent bulbs and LED bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulb.  While that is true in most cases, there can be exceptions to the rule.

One exception is situations where lights have to operate in cold weather conditions.  From direct personal experience, I have learned that even compact fluorescent bulbs that are rated for cold, outdoor use lose much of their effectiveness at temperatures below -20 C.  In these situations, the traditional incandescent bulb is still much more effective both in terms of ability to light and fast start-up.

As noted by the US Department of Energy, there are a number of applications where compact fluorescent lights are not recommended.  In addition to cold environments, CFL’s are not recommended in locations where the light is switched on and off frequently.  This pattern of use shortens life expectancy of the bulb and may increase energy consumption compared with incandescent bulbs.

One other major issue with CFL’s is that they contain mercury, which is considered a toxic hazard.  Recently, the federal government has indicated they intend to introduce a program to encourage recycling and collection of old bulbs.  I wonder if that approach will work any better for bulbs than it does for batteries and print ink cartridges?

Imposing a blanked ban on the sale of incandescent bulbs is a dumb idea and the federal government should immediately move to rescind that direction.  Instead, they should let market forces influence consumer behaviour, which will lead to a more optimum result.