Halogen Bulbs Finally Banned in Europe

In 2009, Europe banned less energy efficient incandescent light bulbs and banned GU10 halogen light bulbs in 2016. As of 1st September 2018, the ban extended to the retailing of practically all halogen bulbs. This includes all non-directional halogen bulbs including pear and candle-shaped bulbs but certain types of specialised bulbs such as those for ovens, cooker hoods and other appliances are exempt as there are no alternatives currently in existence.

Why Have Halogen Bulbs Been Banned?

The previous ban and the new ban are part of the EU’s commitment to improving energy efficient and the reduction of carbon emissions. It is estimated that the banning of halogen bulbs in Europe will reduce carbon emissions by 15.2 million tonnes by 2025. The ban is designed to encourage the purchase and use of more-energy efficient bulbs.

Until now, halogen bulbs have stayed on the market because of prohibitive upfront replacement costs, particularly for the higher wattage bulbs of 60+ watts. Halogen bulbs are however, now old technology, having been in commercial use since 1959. Other bulb types now outstrip them in terms of efficiency and running costs.

Which Bulbs Are More Energy Efficient?

Halogen lightbulbs are much less energy efficient than other bulbs such as LEDs and Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. They have a shorter lifespan, with a halogen bulb roughly having an average life of 2,000 hours at 3 hours per day over two years. This compares extremely poorly with LED’s lifespan of 25,000 hours. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a typical halogen bulb costs £11 per annum in electricity, compared to £2 for a LED. And one final figure, LED lightbulbs typically consume one fifth of the energy of an equivalent halogen bulb.

LEDs such as the highly efficient A++ rated types produce 120 lumens per watt compared to a typical halogen bulb which produces ~12 lumens per watt, along with additional wasted heat. This enables LEDS to deliver a pleasing warm light for homes and brighter lights for offices and public buildings.

Will the Ban Be Applicable to the UK after Brexit?

The UK is committed to global initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 which received further updates in the Paris Climate Agreement of 2017. The EU agreements on climate change and greenhouse gases are in conjunction with global initiatives and targets, so even after Brexit, though the UK government is no longer bound by EU agreements, it is extremely unlikely to reverse the ban.

It makes no economic sense to reverse the ban and it would also take the country out of line with its global commitments. It would also anger manufacturers, retailers, and consumers.  Such a move would be nothing but negative and confusing.

A post-Brexit UK will remain committed to drive environmental change and improve energy efficiency and the UK will negotiate on any future such issues as a stand-alone entity rather than as part of the EU.

What the Ban Means for UK Homes

According to a study by the UK Government, the average British home has 34 lights, 10 of which are halogen (~30%). Many public sector homes and community housing have halogen bulbs in kitchens and bathrooms, in light fittings installed or refitted after the ban on incandescent bulbs.

It can be assumed that the immediate effect of the ban of halogen lightbulbs means searching for replacements, but this hassle is offset by the benefits. The aesthetic benefits are that with LED bulbs, consumers have a greater choice of colour, design, and quality options over the limited halogen bulbs.  Of greater interest though to most, given the increases in energy bills the UK has seen in recent years, is the cost saving of switching to LEDs.

A government spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is quoted as saying that “LED lightbulbs tend to be more energy efficient than conventional lightbulbs, which means that when combined with other energy efficiency measures, households will save around £100 on their annual energy bills from 2020.”

Please note:  The quoted figure of £100 saving is not due to the switch from halogen bulbs alone. It was mentioned earlier in the article that a halogen bulb costs £11 per year and an LED £2, so your annual saving will depend on how many halogen bulbs you have in your home and how soon you switch them out to alternatives.

The salient points are that from September 1st 2018, you don’t purchase a light fitting that takes halogen bulbs, that your energy bills will see some level of reduction and your energy efficiency will improve, you will replace bulbs less regularly, and you are doing a little bit more to help the environment.