Today the Ontario government announced that it will ban the use of incandescent light bulbs in the province by 2012.
Of course this move is prompted by the enviromental scare-mongering and is being touted as the politicians:
"…demonstrating real action to reduce electricity consumption, save money for consumers, and most important, protect our environment."
Interesting, especially when you look and see the cost of the Compact Fluoresent Lamps that we’ll all have to buy. Right now it costs just about $1.00 for a regular bulb – up to $6.00 for a fancy halogen number that many people have in ‘feature’ lights. CFL’s are around $12.00 each.
I just did a quick walk through my own house and counted around 65 separate bulbs. Conversion cost to CFL bulbs for my house: $780. Plus taxes. The Ontario userers charge 8% Provincial Sales Tax (PST), so let’s play tax collector for a moment. Assume the average cost of replacing a bulb in my current configuration is $3 (allowing for halogen and other more expensive styles used in some fixtures). If every incandescent bulb in my home burned out in one year I would pay $195 replacement cost and the government would net $15.60 PST. My CFL conversion cost of $780 increases the government’s tax income to $62.40 – a 400% increase.
No wonder they wish to legislate my choice away.
Consider also that I have approximately 5 large light fixtures that require bulbs that no CFL style will fit. Let’s say that I spend another $100 to replace these, plus the lamps. Suddenly I’m out a lot of cash and the government is in clover.
I understand that the running costs are less for CFL’s than regular lamps, but then consider that in Canada we have more cold months than warm ones. In cold climates, each incandescent bulb is helping to heat the house, thereby aiding the furnace by keeping the base temperature up. If we lose the heat from lightbulbs, the furnace must be run longer to keep the house up to temperature. So we use more gas but less electricity? Suddenly the potential energy savings of CFL’s look more like cost transfers from one utility to another.
Another problem with the CFL bulbs is the mercury content. In some states in the US a broken CFL is determined to be hazardous waste. According to this site, Ontario does not classify the lamps as such, but there is no mention of broken bulbs – only intact ones. GE recommends not disposing of CFL’s in household garbage.
I am more opposed to government dictating what I can and cannot use rather than any specific problem using some CFL bulbs, but in this case there are some questions that need to be answered before Ontario declares this a done deal. If Ontario wants me to support this, a good first step would be making CFL’s PST exempt, at least then I would know that this isn’t one more cynical way to increase my hidden tax burden.
Time for me to go and stock up on old style bulbs and go buy some shares in Philips and GE, maybe in 2012 there will be a living in
smuggling importing incandescents from the US.