Skip to main content


Volume 467: debated on Thursday 15 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what studies have been undertaken by his Department into the (a) affordability and (b) safety of high efficiency light bulbs. (162059)

My Department, via the Market Transformation Programme, works with the lighting industry, the Energy Saving Trust and Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes to promote energy efficient lighting which is both commercially viable and acceptable to consumers.

While the upfront cost of energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) has been historically greater than inefficient tungsten filament bulbs, research carried out by the Energy Saving Trust suggests that, because they last up to 10 times longer and use significantly less energy to generate equivalent light levels, efficient bulbs can save householders up to £60 over the lifetime of a bulb in reduced energy bills and replacement costs.

New products are continually being developed and the retail prices of efficient bulbs have fallen significantly in recent years. In addition, the Energy Efficiency Commitment scheme has helped to drive down the price of energy efficient products, including CFLs, as energy suppliers work with retailers and manufacturers to offer good quality and affordable products to customers. Under the scheme, approximately 82 million CFLs have been distributed or sold to consumers since 2002.

We are not aware of any particular safety issues associated with high efficiency light bulbs such as CFLs. CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury, typically 3-4 mg, and should be disposed of responsibly. The European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive places a responsibility on manufacturers to ensure that these bulbs are disposed of in a safe manner.