Energy-efficient lightbulbs: Middle-class problems

No 74
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Flick… Wait, what's this? Warm, bright light fails to illuminate our granite-topped kitchen counter. Instead, a weak white flicker quivers from the bulb. "It just needs to warm up," we think, willing it to do just that. And willing it. And willing it…

Back in 2011, when traditional incandescent and halogen light bulbs were phased out, we enthusiastically installed the energy-saving light bulbs the council sent round into every spotlight, reading lamp and mini-chandelier, gathered round them in awe and reflected, "Hurrah for the environment". At Philippa and Timothy's dinner party, how we sniffed at the sight of these wonder bulbs gathering dust in their boxes, tut-tutting at the size of their carbon footprint.

Created to assuage our guilt about the environmental impact of our two-car homes and flights to Tuscany, these miracle bulbs assured us we're making a brighter future for the next generation.

But aren't they a little, well, annoying? Their waiting-room glow, the dimmer switches they've rendered useless, the wait for full-brightness capacity…

But fear not! It's 2014 and better, brighter bulbs are out there. At the DIY shop, we examine row after row. "You need to look at the lumens to judge the brightness," says happy-to-help-you-Rosemary. What, no watts? Are lumens the same as watts? They're not? Need to lie down in a darkened room?

But what else can we do? Our bedroom may look like a seedy motel, but at least we can bask in the feeble glow of knowing we're doing our bit for the planet.