The government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority is trying to get Kiwis to switch from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Billboards labelled “RightLight” compare Thomas A. Edison’s invention from 1880 with Edward Hammer’s from 1976 and come to the exciting conclusion that a century of improvement pays off by savings of $20 per year.

What this billboards doesn’t mention is that since 2010 LED lightbulbs have been widely accepted as the next technological step forward in terms of home lighting. Compared to CFLs and incandescent they have many advantages:

  • Better energy efficiency
  • Longer lifetime
  • Robust
  • No heat emission
  • No toxic Mercury
  • Natural carbon light spectrum

The last two points are especially notable with our interest in becoming ‘greener’ by the day. When the CFL goes to landfill (after its 8,000 hour lifetime) the Mercury in the bulb creates an environmental hazard, which the recent LED technology avoids. The second point is also hugely significant. Our eyes are used to a light spectrum of burned carbon, provided by e.g. sunlight, fire, candlelight and incandescent light bulbs. In contrast, fluorescent lights strip the emitted spectrum to a few spikes which mock our eyes by appearing ‘white’, though without the full spectrum of real white light. Together with air conditioning the mass-installation of fluorescent light contributes to the Sick Building Syndrome, which in the US costs an estimated $200 billion per year in sick leave, reduced productivity and increased health care costs.

Hence we would like to encourage our government to take a real step forward and skip the already superseded CFLs. Replacing a 130 year old technology by one 40 years old doesn’t make sense when you can lighten up in with an energy efficient, environmentally friendly and healthier option.

S&T recommends skip CFL, go LED!