Questions are being raised about whether so-called energy saving light bulbs might cause cold-weather Canadians to burn more energy to heat their homes than if they were to use regular light bulbs.
CBC News has found that in some cases compact fluorescent bulbs
(CFLs) can have the adverse effect of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, depending on how consumers heat their homes.
Physics professor Peter Blunden at the University of Manitoba said CFL bulbs are certainly more energy efficient than older incandescent bulbs.
But in cold-weather climates such as Canada’s, Blunden said older incandescent bulbs do more than just light our homes. During the long winter months, they also generate heat. The new CFL bulbs on the other hand produce minimal heat so the loss has to be made up by fossil-fuel burning gas, oil or wood to heat your home.
“To some extent, the case [in favour of CFL bulbs] has been oversold” because of the offset in higher heating costs, he said.
In fact, a recent report by BC Hydro estimates new lighting regulations will increase annual greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia by 45,000 tonnes annually as consumers use more energy to heat their homes after switching to more energy efficient — but cooler — lighting.