Greener Choice for Household Lighting and Lighting Disposal
For over a hundred years, humans have been using artificial light to hold back the dark from their homes. However it is only in the last few decades that we have seen rapid improvements in household lighting. First came home usage of fluorescent lights, then the longer lasting incandescent bulb, and more recently the compact fluoro and LED lights. But with all these alternatives, what is the greener choice for household lighting and how should they be disposed at end of life.
Read on to find out.
Greener Choice for Household Lighting … Winner is LEDs
Best Choice: Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
These are a type of solid-state lighting i.e. semiconductors that convert electricity into light.
LED bulbs use only 15% to 20% of the energy incandescent bulbs used and last 15 to 25 times longer. This means that households can save hundreds of dollars per year by switching to LED.
These bulbs come in many different forms, including the latest trends in lamp bulbs (see image).
Next Best Choice: Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)
CFLs aka compact fluoros are simply a shorter or curled version of the long tube fluorescent lights, typically found in offices and work spaces.
CFL bulbs use 25% to 30% of the energy incandescent bulbs used and last 8 to 10 times longer.
Worse Choice: Halogens
Halogens are commonly found in older downlights and lamps where dimmers are used. The bulbs are similar to incandescent bulbs in that they have a tungsten filament however the filament is enclosed in a capsule with mercury gas to increase bulb efficiency.
Halogen bulbs use around 75% of the energy incandescent bulbs used and should be replaced ASAP.
Worst Choice: Incandescent Bulbs
These are the traditional bulbs which use a lot of energy to produce light and fortunately are no longer manufactured.
If you still have any of these lights in your house, they should be replaced ASAP.
Household Lighting Disposal
There are varying schools of thought with respect to whether light globes can be disposed of in the kerbside waste due to the mercury, lead and other contaminants in certain light globes (for example CFLs).
The sustainable disposal method is to send them to recycling in a similar way to dropping batteries off for recycling.
The not so good news is that there are very few places where light globes can be dropped off for recycling:
- Ikea: Ikea take light globes and batteries, among other items.
Local Government / Council Drop Off Points: check with your local council. Note that many councils only accept fluoros including CFLs for recycling and the remainder are sent to landfill.
If you know of more places where light globes can be disposed for recycling, please leave a comment.