New Zealand switches off old light bulbs

Wellington: New Zealand has decided to disconnect the traditional light bulb from its power socket.

Starting 2009, the New Zealand government has decided to ban traditional light bulbs, in favour of energy-saving alternatives, according to a statement by New Zealand's energy minister David Parker. The move is aimed at cutting lighting energy consumption by 20 per cent by 2015, and showing savings of up to NZ$500 million ($376 million) by 2020.

"The traditional light bulb is very old technology and very inefficient. Only 5 per cent of the energy it uses generates light - the rest is wasted as heat. It is intended that from late next year, these inefficient incandescent bulbs will be phased out because they waste so much energy," Parker said in a statement. "There's a whole new generation of lighting coming through that is more cost-effective, saves energy and is better for the environment," he added.

Parker said a wide range of more energy efficient bulbs that use less power and last longer, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and low-voltage halogens, were better alternatives, and widely available. New minimum energy standards by the government now mean that fresh stocks of incandescent bulbs will not be imported after October 2009.

The sales ban on incandescent bulbs will become effective next year around the same time as neighbouring Australia introduces a similar ban.

New Zealand generates 60 per cent of its power from hydro-electricity, and the government has placed a hold on new thermal-generated power stations. Over half of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions come from its 40 million sheep, and 9 million cattle, the mainstay of the economically-key agricultural sector.

Current estimates peg New Zealand at producing around 2.65 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually in generating the power for lighting. New Zealand's minority centre-left Labour government is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, and has set a long-term goal of making New Zealand carbon neutral.