Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Light bulb nonsense

I consider myself to be environmentally aware but I don't go along with every green fad - I prefer to think things through and make my own judgements rather than blindly following what the environmental lobby says is right. In fact I think I am more genuinely green than they are sometimes! What is currently exercising a lot of people is the phasing out of the good old tungsten filament lamp in favour of "greener" alternatives. In fact yesterday (Sept 1st) saw the end of manufacture and restocking by shops of the 100 watt version, that is not to say that old stock still on the shelves in a store can't be sold but such has been the rush to stock up by customers I do wonder if there any left. It's 100 watt bulbs now but lower wattages are due to be gradually phased out as time goes on.

Why aren't compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) gaining greater favour then? Seems as if it is mainly down to the quality of the light they emit, some folk being very uncomfortable with them. Then there is the higher purchase price and the time delay in reaching full power. My particular problem (and in the great scheme of things I suppose its size is like one grain of sand in the Sahara) is that I have three dimmer switches in my cottage. Not put in by me, evidently the idea of the guy from whom I purchased my home but I'm quite happy to have them though. I was always under the impression that low energy bulbs and dimmer switches weren't happy bedfellows but before writing this I thought that some research on the internet was called for. It seems that there are dimmer switches and dimmer switches and that one type might be compatible with certain CFLs. Complications right away then. One of my dimmers is a 2 gang job with one switch for the kitchen and the other the downstairs switch for the two way landing light. The latter has a 60 watt bulb of the old fashioned variety but normally I would have the dimmer so it is only part on, say 40 watts which is all I need most of the time in that location. It's switched on for very short periods of course. My point then is that the existing bulb, which very very rarely needs replacing, is not eco unfriendly. So why am I being told otherwise?

And another thing - admittedly tungsten bulbs get chucked in the dustbin when they pack up so ultimately go to landfill, not a good destination in view of the shortage of tip space but in reality take up very little room compared with the bulk of the rubbish we throw away. But there is talk of recycling CFLs, such chatter may have arisen because of the minuscule amount of mercury inside them. How would such a thing work in practice? A recycling truck might go down a street one day and there is just one CFL to pick up - is that going to be kept separate from other things? Don't make me laugh! It's like radio batteries for instance, they have nasties in them and strictly shouldn't go in the bin when discharged. But what is one expected to do? Hold on to them until some recycling scheme for them pops up in your area in the future. Hardly. Incidentally I have a 'wind up' torch thus don't need those pesky batteries. Surely this is the way to go if you want to be green.

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