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Australia will switch off less efficient lightbulbs

February 20, 2007|From Times Wire Services

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said today that Australia would gradually ban incandescent lightbulbs and require the use of more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs instead.

Legislation to restrict the sale of the old bulbs could reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons and cut household lighting costs up to 66%, Turnbull said. Australia produced almost 565 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2004, officials say.

Turnbull said yellow incandescent bulbs, which have been in use virtually unchanged for 125 years, would be replaced by 2009. If electricity use is curtailed, less fossil fuel will be burned to produce power.

"If the rest of the world follows our lead, this will reduce an amount of energy ... to the tune of five times as much energy as Australia consumes," he said.

Electricity flows through a filament in incandescent bulbs to create light. Much of the energy, however, is wasted in the form of heat.

Under Turnbull's plan, bulbs that do not comply with energy-efficiency targets will be gradually banned from sale, eliminating the incandescent bulb because it could not meet the targets. Exemptions might apply, such as for medical lighting.

Fluorescent bulbs are more expensive than incandescent but last longer and use about 20% of the power to produce the same amount of light, making them more economical over time, advocates argue.

Australia will be the first country to ban incandescent bulbs. British and California lawmakers have been lobbying for such a step.

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