Let there be lightbulbs

Ah, the joys of trying to be environmentally friendly. I recycle my rubbish and even my cardboard  – or at least I did until the binmen emptied the special cardboard recycling bag, left the empty bag at the side of the road and it blew away in the wind, quite possibly ending up on an endangered animal’s head and suffocating the bloody thing – and I’d put solar panels and a wind turbine on the roof if I intended to stay here long enough to break even on that particular investment (I don’t). I even try to buy energy saving lightbulbs.

Which means I’m an idiot.

I mean, jesus, the profiteering that goes on over energy saving bulbs is unbelievable. I popped down to homebase to get energy saving replacements for the bulbs in the hallway light and landing light, and they were £8.99 a pop. As both the hallway light and the landing light are three-bulb jobs apiece (you know, the little candle ones), that’s fifty-six quid.

Undeterred, I turned to the internet and wasted, ooh, about a million kilowatt hours of electricity trying to get a better deal. And I did, eventually: three quid a bulb. Not quite as good as the 3-odd-pence normal bulbs cost, and they’re imported from somewhere else to the UK and then delivered to me in a big diesel-belching truck, but hey! It’s the gesture that counts!

I’ve got some halogen downlighters in the dining room too, and I thought about replacing them as well – until I found out that replacing them with LEDs would be £12 per bulb (there are six) and each downlighter would need a brand new transformer. As the downlighters are switched on once every four months or so, and only then because the dog’s managed to be sick behind something and I need the light for a few minutes to make sure I’ve cleaned it all up (you don’t see *that* in the Andrex ads, do you?), it didn’t strike me as a very smart investment.

But I digress. Back to my brand new energy savers. I popped the new bulbs into the hallway light, and one of them immediately lit up. I popped another bulb in. The first bulb went out; the new one lit. I popped a third bulb in, with no change. So what happens now is that when I turn the light on, all three bulbs light, which is what they’re supposed to do; when I turn it off, one, two or three bulbs will light slightly and/or flicker, giving the house the pleasant ambience of the toilet blocks in Doom 3. Which they’re not supposed to do.

I’ve clearly got a bad earth somewhere, so power’s going to the bulbs when it shouldn’t. It’s not enough to light up the normal bulbs, but it’s enough to fire up the energy savers.

So that gives me a choice: save the polar bears by sticking with the energy saving bulbs, which means calling out an electrician to fix the faulty earth (which may be in the light, or it may be in the lighting circuit, so it’s either going to be very expensive or really, really expensive) – or I could just leave the lights on 24/7, burning seven times less electricity per bulb than before but running said bulbs for roughly 100 times longer each day in order to stop the flickering hurting my eyes. Hmmm. Or… I could do the polar bear-killing, planet raping thing of not calling an electrician at all, throwing the energy saving bulbs in the bin and putting the old, environmentally unfriendly bulbs back.

Ooh, it’s a toughie.

*crashing sound as bulbs hit the bin*





0 responses to “Let there be lightbulbs”

  1. Ms Mac

    Save the Polar Bears!

  2. Mupwangle

    I find it very hard to find flourescent candle bulbs that aren’t 50ft tall. I put a new bulb in my bedroom. It works fine except that it takes 10 minutes to get to full brightness. I switch it on and go somewhere else.

  3. Vic and I are both migraine sufferers, so are really looking forward to the enforcement of this new bloody EU law forcing us to use these “energy-saving” bulbs. Has the calculation of their energy-savingness taken into account the cost of manufacturing all that extra ibuprofen, d’you think?

    We have a couple of them for leaving on while we’re out, but I wouldn’t want to live in an environment lit by the bloody things. The light’s horrible. Don’t know about yours, but my subconscious certainly notices the difference between burning and flickering, and give me burning any day.

    So we’ll have to kit the whole house out with LEDs, which will cost a fucking fortune. Which means we’ll be forced by law into spending money that I would otherwise spend on a wind turbine and some solar panels, which means we’ll still be taking our electricity off the grid for years to come when we were planning to make our own, in order to “save energy”.

  4. > it takes 10 minutes to get to full brightness

    Yeah, that’s the other thing. I hate that.

  5. Should be using the halogen bulbs. Most important that everyone does in fact.
    They use scandium.
    Can you guess who supplies scandium to the light bulb industry?

  6. Gary


  7. mupwangle

    I saw something online the other day that said the GE were claiming that they’d come up with some sort of tech that made incandescent bulbs as efficient as flourescents. Can’t remember owt else about it though.

  8. mupwangle


    China and Russia.

  9. i have low-energy bulbs everywhere except the halogen downlighters (which I also hardly ever turn on). This is mainly because I hate changing bulbs and the ones in the bathroom in particular were going out every month or so. And I’m looking forward to a slight reduction in my bill: if it doesn’t pay for the bulbs before I leave the flat, I’m taking them with me. But that’s it. The sodding polar bears survived the mediaevel warm period; if they can’t survive this, they don’t deserve to live.

  10. Gary

    On a related note, did anyone see the Sun story about the English council that wants to use CCTV to spy on people putting bins out where/when they shouldn’t? The story itself was the usual old crap, but the council’s language interested me: they’re determined to fight “envirocrime” and “envirocriminals”.

    The high-pitched sound you hear is the English language begging for mercy. And the low-pitched noise is Orwell shouting “for fuck’s sake, it wasn’t supposed to be a manual!” from beneath six feet of soil.

  11. What is even conceivably criminal about putting a bin out at the wrong time? If it’s the wrong time or the wrong place or the wrong bin, surely the council simply don’t empty it, and you get it back still full. Or is the energy you waste lugging it back and forth destroying rainforests?

  12. Gary

    I think it was fly tipping – the article suggested it was to catch people whose bin bags spill, but the council says that’s a fabrication.

    According to Brent Council, envirocrime also includes dog fouling. “Envirocrime can often lead to a spiralling decline in an area giving the impression that neither the Council or the community care. This in turn can lead to more serious crime as criminals feel that thet are in an area where it is safe to operate.”

  13. The halogen bulbs are excellent. “Mini-suns”, I call them.

  14. Well, that’s the broken windows theory, and it’s true. Doesn’t work without punishing criminals, though, and there’s no indication that the British state intends to do much of that.

    And dog fouling? Clearing it up is a recent fad. It was everywhere when I was a kid, so you watched your feet. And there was less anti-social behaviour, less litter, and the environment was generally a nicer place to be.

  15. Scandium to the light bulb industry? China? nope, Russia? yes, it’s refined there.
    But the person in the middle is a certain UK stylee blogger who lives in Portugal.
    Not Lucy Pepper, the other one.
    “That’s” why it’s important that everyone use halogen bulbs. In fact, you should all replace all of your bulbs every day. Every 8 hours even. That quarter of a milligram of scandium in each bulb is what keeps this household ticking over.

  16. Callum

    You can get energy saving bulbs for free if you contact your supplier and ask about how you can do more top save energy, I havent actually bought any of these bulbs, But every light socket has one. As fore saving money, my house used to have one of these pre-pay meters, and when i got round to putting money into it I would only use about £5 a week. I changed this meter to a normal one & only pay £35 per month. PS I don’t use standby buttons on tv’s ect.

  17. Guess which organisation has just decreed that incandescant light bulbs will be banned in two years’ time, and which also imposes a 66% import tariff on halogen bulbs thus ensuring that the latter remain far more expensive than they should be?

    If you answered, “the EU” then you’ve won a prize. Unfortunately, it’s been banned under REACH…


  18. Gary

    Surely it’d make more sense to subsidise energy savers (or the firms making ’em) than banning incandescents? It’s hardly going to make a big dent in the environment compared to, say, profligate energy use in plasma TVs.