Free low energy light bulbs for Londoners

The people of London are being given a chance to trade in traditional light bulbs for their energy efficient equivalents in a joint scheme run by City Hall and the private sector partners.

From Friday, January 11 to Sunday, January 13 those wanting to get their hands on the free low-energy bulbs can pop into any of the city’s B&Q DIY stores and swap up to two old incandescent bulbs for energy efficient versions.

The scheme, which organisers have dubbed a light bulb amnesty, is expected to be the first of many initiatives aiming to encourage the public to make small lifestyle changes which can add up to have a significant impact on carbon emissions.

According to City Hall’s calculations, if every home in London switched to low-energy bulbs, the capital would slash emissions by 500,000 tonnes of carbon while making a savings of £139m on energy bills.

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, told reporters that this kind of initiative could encourage people to take the first step in making their life styles greener.

“We can avoid catastrophic climate change not by changing the quality of our lives but by changing the way we live,” he said.

While the energy benefits of the bulbs are beyond doubt, the amnesty clashed with a comment by the Environment Agency in a BBC interview warning about the potential health and pollution risks associated with the bulbs, which contain a small amount of mercury.

Asked about the unfortunate timing of the EA announcement, Mr Livingstone told edie: “We shouldn’t get too alarmist about this. Every now and then there’s a scare on mercury.

“I expect every adult of my generation is wandering round with a large amount of mercury in their fillings. 20 years have gone by and we’re all still here.

“The truth is that mercury is released in the production of anything by the power plants. Much more is released into the atmosphere through the extra energy used by [non energy efficient] light bulbs.”

He went on to say that it was important for London’s borough councils, responsible for waste management, ensure that facilities are in place to ensure the safe disposal of bulbs and make it easy for the public to use them so that doing so becomes second nature.

  • A full list of B&Q’s London stores, all of which are involved in the amnesty, can be found here.

    While B&Q is hosting the amnesty, British Gas is supplying the bulbs.

    Sam Bond

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