Germans Hoarding Incandescent Light Bulbs

Something that we have to look forward to in a couple of years.

As the Sept. 1 deadline for the implementation of the first phase of the EU's ban on incandescent light bulbs approaches, shoppers, retailers and even museums are hoarding the precious wares -- and helping the manufacturers make a bundle.

The EU ban, adopted in March, calls for the gradual replacement of traditional light bulbs with supposedly more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL). The first to go, on Sept. 1, will be 100-watt bulbs. Bulbs of other wattages will then gradually fall under the ban, which is expected to cover all such bulbs by Sept. 1, 2012 (see graphic below).

Hardware stores and home-improvement chains in Germany are seeing massive increases in the sales of the traditional bulbs. Obi reports a 27 percent growth in sales over the same period a year ago. Hornbach has seen its frosted-glass light bulb sales increase by 40-112 percent. When it comes to 100-watt bulbs, Max Bahr has seen an 80 percent jump in sales, while the figure has been 150 percent for its competitor Praktiker.

"It's unbelievable what is happening," says Werner Wiesner, the head of Megaman, a manufacturer of energy-saving bulbs. Wiesner recounts a story of how one of his field representatives recently saw a man in a hardware store with a shopping cart full of light bulbs of all types worth more than €200 ($285). "That's enough for the next 20 years." . . . .



Blogger Panta Rei said...


hardly surprising about the German (and other European) hoarding...

Europeans and Americans choose to buy ordinary light bulbs around 9 times out of 10.
Banning what people want gives the supposed savings - no point in banning an impopular product!

If new LED lights -or improved CFLs- are good,
people will buy them - no need to ban ordinary light bulbs (little point).
If they are not good, people will not buy them - no need to ban ordinary light bulbs (no point).
The arrival of the transistor didn't mean that more energy using radio tubes had to be banned... they were bought less anyway.

All lights have advantages
The ordinary simple light bulb has for many people a pleasing appearance, it responds quickly with bright broad spectrum light, is easy to use with dimmers and other equipment, can come in small sizes, and has safely been used for over 100 years.

100 W+ equivalent brightness is a particular issue - difficult and expensive with both fluorescents and LEDS - yet such incandescent bulbs are first in line for banning in both America and the EU

Since when does Europe or America need to save on electricity?
There is no energy shortage.
Note that if there was an energy shortage, the price rise would make people buy more efficient products anyway - no need to legislate for it.

Energy security?
There are usually plenty of local energy sources,
Middle East oil is not used for electricity generation, 1/2 world uranium exports are from Canada and Australia.

Consumers - not politicians - pay for the energy used.
Certainly it is good to let people know how they can save energy and money - but why force them to do it?

Most cars have emissions.
But does a light bulb give out any gases?
Power stations might not either:
In Sweden and France, as in Washington state practically all electricity is emission-free, while around half of it is in many European countries and in states like New York and California.
Why should emission-free households be denied the use of lighting they obviously want to use?
Low emission households will increase everywhere, since emissions will be reduced anyway through the planned use of coal/gas processing technology or energy substitution.

Also, the savings amounts can be questioned for many reasons:
For a referenced list of reasons against light bulb bans, see
http://www.ceolas.net/#li1x onwards

Even if a reduction in use was needed, then taxation to reduce consumption would make more sense since government can use the income to reduce emissions (home insulation schemes, renewable projects etc) more than any remaining product use causes such problems.
People can still buy what they want, unlike with bans.
However taxation on electrical appliances is hardly needed either, and is in principle wrong for similar reasons to bans (for example, emission-free households are hit too).

7/30/2009 2:25 PM  

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