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Phase out of incandescent lamps meets stiff resistance

The complete ban on the production of domestic use incandescent lamps – which came into effect on 1 September - has led to panic buying by customers reluctant to adapt to more energy efficient lighting solutions.

Although much loved for domestic use, incandescent lamps waste as much as 90 per cent of their energy as heat and the ban will bring the UK into line with an EU directive aimed at saving energy. However, more energy efficient alternatives – compact fluorescents, IRC (infra-red coated) lights and LEDs – have been criticised as they don’t match the traditional lamps in terms of quality or warmth of light.

However, the sale of existing incandescent lamps is not banned and customers have been stocking up on them while still available in shops. Also, industrial or ‘rough service’ incandescent lamps – used on construction sites as they are not affected by vibrations – are not covered by the ban and have seen a spike in sales.

Explaining the reluctance of customers to move towards energy efficient lighting solutions, Lucy Martin, design director at John Cullen, said: ‘People respond to lighting in an emotional way. Light changes the way people respond to and perceive a space. The incandescent lamp provided an ideal CRI to create light, mood and atmosphere that people are comfortable with and used to.’

Some in the lighting industry have come out against phasing out incandescent bulbs altogether.  Kevan Shaw, director of Kevan Shaw Lighting Design, said he was against the ban as there was no evidence it would achieve planned energy savings and because of the effects new lighting solutions were having on people with photo sensitivities. He said: ‘There are people who have extreme reactions to low energy lighting. A range of diseases such as epilepsy, migraine, ME and lupus are affected by the new lighting on offer, and no research is being done into the effects on people’s health.’

There are also concerns over the disposal of the mercury content and plastics used in the manufacture of compact fluorescents. Shaw said: ‘There is no real value in recycling the compact fluorescents, and there is an EU ban on the export of mercury, while the lamps are mostly coming from China, meaning a one-way market of mercury to the EU.’

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