Phasing-out inefficient lighting
3 April 2009 – On World Environment Day, 5 June 2008, the Australian Government announced it would proceed with the phase-out of inefficient lamps first announced by the former Howard government in February 2007. From 1 February this year the most common incandescent lamps were banned from import and from November 2009 they will be banned from sale.
Lighting Council Australia, the peak body for Australia’s lighting industry, has welcomed the announcement. Incandescent lamps consume up to five times more electricity than their main replacement technology, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). CFLs last up to 15,000 hours, whereas an incandescent bulb has an operational life of around 1000 hours. It has been estimated that phasing-out incandescent lamps in Australia will eventually save four million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, or the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road.
What lamps are affected?Rationale for the phase-out
The Government has given the following reasons for banning inefficient lamps:
• General Lighting Service (GLS) lamps are the common pear-shaped incandescent lamps with tungsten filaments. They are the most inefficient yet widely used lamp in the residential sector. They continue to sell remarkably well because, if their energy costs are ignored, they appear cheap. More efficient lamps such as CFLs and halogen types are facing a number of problems breaking into the market. Currently a CFL sells for up to five times more than a regular GLS lamp.
• There are significant information failures and split incentive problems in the market for energy-efficient lamps. Energy bills are aggregated and periodic and therefore do not provide immediate feedback on the effectiveness of individual energy saving investments. Consumers must therefore gather information and perform a reasonably sophisticated calculation to compare the life-cycle costs of tungsten filament lamps and CFLs. But many lack the skills. For others, the amounts saved are too small to justify the effort or they do not remain at the same address long enough to benefit fully from a long-lived energy saving lamp.
• Both CFLs and lamp labelling have also had unfortunate histories. Early disappointments with aspects of the performance of CFLs – including problems with start up times, colour and durability – have created uncertainties in the minds of users. Lamp labelling has evolved in a way that identifies the lighting power of a lamp with its energy use, inhibiting awareness of energy efficiency lighting options.
• The proposed regulations will result in a reduction of 28.5 million tonnes of greenhouse emissions over the period 2009-2020.