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TIME TO SEE THE LIGHT; They may seem a bit expensive, but energy saving bulbs will save you a fortune.. and could help save the planet.


WHICHEVER bright spark invented the energy efficient lightbulb has done the world a big favour.

They do cost a bit more than ordinary bulbs but will save you cash in the long run and help protect the Earth's resources.

Even Tony Blair has cottoned on that they are a good idea, as the Mirror revealed yesterday, and urged everyone in Britain to use them as a key part of his energy policy.

The reason they are such a great idea is that an energy efficient bulb uses less than a quarter of the electricity of a standard one and can last up to 12 times longer.

They cost around pounds 3 but over a year users will see their electric bill fall by pounds 10.

And over its lifetime, that little bulb - known as compact fluorescent lamps or CFLs - will more than pay for itself by saving you pounds 50.

The soft white light its gives off may even help insomniacs and Sad (Seasonally Affective Disorder) sufferers.

James Russill, of the Energy Saving Trust, also wants us all to switch. He said: "You can only gain and so does the planet."

Householders used to be put off because the CFLs did not light up straight away but the new style bulbs have overcome that.

James said: "They used to be a little bigger and slow to warm up to a usable brightness. But the new range of CFLs available today are much better. They are almost the same size as normal bulbs. You still can't flick the switch and get maximum light immediately but they do warm up fast enough for that not to be an inconvenience.

"And the prices have come down significantly. They still cost more than normal tungsten filament lamps but the fact they last 10 times as long means you will recoup the money and save energy."

The problem with traditional bulbs, which have hardly changed in more than a century, is that they waste a lot of their energy by turning it into heat.

Thomas Edison developed the electric lightbulb in 1879 but others had grasped the technology long before.

German Henricg Globel invented the first true lightbulb in 1854 using a carbonised bamboo filament inside glass.

And even earlier, in 1809, Humphry Davy developed the first arc light by connecting two wires, with a charcoal strip between them, to a battery. The carbon flowed as the current passed over. In 1820 Warren De La Rue put a platinum coil in an evacuated tube and made it glow.

Nowadays five per cent of all our electricity goes on lighting. And it accounts for 15 per cent of household electricity bills.

So it is vital that when a bulb blows, we switch to the low electricity variety. If every home had three CFLs, the electricity saved would power all our street lights.

However standard bulbs still outsell CFLs by 27 to one. There are suggestions that they could be taxed to encourage homes to opt for the energy saving type.

James says there is no excuse not to switch. "All energy suppliers subsidise CFLs - or provide them free."

But he added: "Of course, buying energy saving lightbulbs is only part of an energy efficient lifestyle. You should be looking at insulating the loft and walls, turn your appliances off from standby and look for our energy efficient logo on goods."


IDEA: PM in Mirror yesterday
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 13, 2006
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