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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*