Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Stop Before You Switch Your Light Bulbs: Fluorescent Bulbs May Actually Increase Green House Gas Emissions, Depending on Where You Live

That’s it, we’re not switching to fluorescent light bulbs.

A new report by researchers at the University of Toronto “To Switch or not to Switch : A Critical Analysis of Canada’s Ban on Incandescent Light Bulbs” indicates that using the low-heat bulbs will actually do more harm than good in a places, like Quebec, where electricity comes from “clean” sources. That’s because the heat from the old-fashioned bulbs adds marginally to the warming of the dwelling, decreasing the need to heat. The effect may be small, but the researchers say at least three Canadian provinces will actually increase their carbon footprint if their residents make the big switch.

Where electricity is generated by coal, the situation is different, the researchers agree.

Ever since the Harper government said it was going to ban incandescent bulbs in Canada by 2012, I’ve been complaining. In their current configuration they provide disagreeable light. A ban on the old fashioned kind of bulb doesn’t do anything about more important ways to save energy and cut down green house gas emissions, such as boosting public transportation and retrofitting buildings to conserve heat.

In the story in La Presse which reported the researchers' findings, little mention is made of what the effect might be in summer time when incandescent bulbs add to the ambient heat, thus possibly increasing the need for air conditioning. Maybe then the advice of my grandmother would apply though: she always said it was much cooler to sit in the dark on a summer night than under a light. Must make a comparison if summer ever comes again!

No comments: