The ECA advises on the phaseout of traditional GLS lamps from 1 September 2009

As the European Union flicks the switch on traditional lightbulb sales, the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) allays the rise in fears surrounding phasing out the lamps starting on 1 September.

In Germany, people have been stockpiling traditional lightbulbs ahead of the ban, with sales of conventional incandescent lamps up 34 per cent in the first six months of this year.

The ECA's head of technical services, Giuliano Digilio says: “The introduction of energy-saving lightbulbs is great news for the environment and for consumers who will enjoy cheaper energy bills. It’s not something people should be worrying about and certainly not reason for hoarding old lamps. We have seen significant advancements in lighting technology over the past few years and this is set to continue.

“Consumer concerns over first generation energy-saving lamps are almost certainly a thing of the past. We want to address some popular myths circulating on websites by showing consumers the environmental and cost saving benefits of switching to energy-saving lamps,” adds Digilio.

ECA’s common energy-saving lightbulb myths include:

Energy-saving lamps are too costly

Although higher in price, a typical energy-saving lamp can offer a saving of up to £12 per year when compared to a traditional lamp. A six-year life rated energy-saving lamp would therefore save about £72 during its lifetime - based on three continuous hours burning at 13p/kWh1. We have also recently seen the price of energy-saving lamps drop with retailers offering promotions to win market share.

Energy-saving lamps take a long time to reach full brightness and emit a harsh light that causes eyestrain

Consumers are going to notice very little difference in the performance of good quality energy-saving lamps and traditional lamps. Energy-saving lamps can be switched on much faster than the early first generation lamps and produce a light quality that is very close to that of traditional lamps - with all the added cost saving and environmental benefits.

As it takes more energy to produce an energy-saving lamp all efficiency benefits are lost

While it takes approximately five times more energy to produce an energy-saving lightbulb compared to a traditional one, energy-saving lamps last on average between six to 15 times longer. In addition, energy-saving lamps are 80% more energy efficient when in use, resulting in significant overall savings.

Energy-saving lightbulbs won’t work in existing light fittings

The latest generation of energy-saving lamps are compatible with most existing ceiling fittings and lamp fittings.

Energy-saving lightbulbs do not work with dimmer switches

There are new energy-saving lamps available that can dim on ordinary domestic dimmer switches. These lamps are a relatively new innovation and therefore aren’t widely available, however supply will increase over time as demand grows. We advise consumers to check the packaging before making a purchase to ensure they are getting a lamp suitable for their application.

Energy-saving lightbulbs aren’t compatible with outdoor use

Energy-saving lightbulbs are compatible with outdoor use as long as they work with your outdoor fitting. Again, make sure you check the packaging to ensure you’re buying the right lamp for the right application.

Energy-saving lightbulbs flicker and buzz, which can trigger health problems

Energy-saving lamps now give a constant, flicker free, non-stroboscopic light. A small number of cases have been reported by people who suffer from reactions to certain types of linear fluorescent lamps, however these were almost certainly triggered by old technology.

Energy-saving lightbulbs are dangerous because they contain mercury

Energy-saving lamps do contain very small amounts of mercury (5mg or less) to allow them to generate light in the most economical way. No mercury is emitted from lamps when in use which is why they are safe both in regard to health and the environment. The lamps also contain far less mercury than the fluorescent lamps which have been commonplace in many UK homes in the past.

Energy-saving lightbulbs do not last as long when switched on and off frequently

Technological developments mean an energy-saving lightbulb’s life is no longer affected by switching. The current standards for ‘Energy Recommended’ accreditation requires over 3,000 switching cycles per 8,000 hours of tested life which is many more than would be necessary for normal domestic use.