NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Retailers Cash in as the Ban on Old-Style Bulbs Kicks In

January 6, 2011

The British government has ordered energy companies to scrap the subsidies that have kept the price of eco-bulbs (such as compact fluorescent light bulbs) artificially low for the last few years.  At the same time, manufacturers are increasing wholesale prices to take advantage of the European ban on "energy guzzling" old-style incandescent bulbs.  Retailers also claim that bulbs that currently cost only 33p are expected to sell for more than £1 within three months.  Some will cost £3 or more, says the Daily Mail (U.K.).

The move comes as Britain is gearing up to phase out the last incandescent light bulbs in an effort to meet climate change targets.  The European Union has already banned shops from buying stocks of 100-watt bulbs and stopped them stocking up on any type of frosted incandescent bulbs, says the Mail.

  • In September, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target will prevent retailers buying 60-watt bulbs and by 2012 all incandescent bulbs will be banned -- forcing shoppers to buy low-energy alternatives for almost all the light fittings in their homes.
  • Supermarkets and big home improvement chains have already stopped selling bulbs above 40-watts under a scheme backed by the British government.

The quality of eco-bulbs has improved in the last two years but critics complain that their light is harsh and flickers.  Medical charities say they can trigger epileptic fits, migraines and skin rashes, and have called for an "opt out" for vulnerable people, says the Mail.

Source: David Derbyshire, "Eco-Bulb Cost to Treble: Makers Cash in as the Ban on Old-Style Bulbs Kicks In," Daily Mail (U.K.), January 3, 2011.

For text:


Browse more articles on Environment Issues