Can Europe survive without heat balls?

Can Europe survive without heat balls?

In an effort to curb climate change, the European Union, as part of a broader initiative to cut twenty percent of their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, passed legislation aimed at phasing out incandescent light bulbs in favor of their more energy efficient cohorts, CFL and LED bulbs. The phase out will go as follows:

 Sept. 2009: Incandescent light bulbs of 100W and above will be phased out.
 Sept. 2011: 60W incandescent bulbs phased out.
 Sept. 2012: 40 and 25W incandescent bulbs phased out.
 By the end of 2012: All inefficient light-bulbs phased-out.

Because of their perceived harm these archaic filament filled frosted wonders are soon to be relics destined to the dust bin of history. But where one species goes extinct another arises; enter the “heat ball.”
Many Europeans (unsettled by the “bluish” light CFLs emit and even more by the prospect of a government legislating the products they use in their homes) have gone out in force and snapped up all the bulbs they can grab. The heat bulb is the brain child of a German engineer turned entrepreneur who hopes to cash in on the ban by avoiding it all together. Rotthaeuser, the heat ball’s hawker, has analyzed the “incandescent light bulb” and claims that because the bulbs produce only five percent light and ninety-five percent heat they are in fact tiny personal “heaters” and not “lights.” That’s right, you no longer have to justify to the environment your use of the light bulb for just light, it can also warm your toes on a frosty day.


  1. I think the legislation will force companies to develop lightbulbs that will be more appealing to consumers while also being more energy-efficient. These new bulbs could avoid the blue light, mercury content, or warm-up time that customers don’t like about current incandescent alternatives. For example, GE recently unveiled a new hybrid halogen-compact fluorescent light bulb that attempt to solve the slow warm-up problem. The halogen tube turns on immediately and then turns itself off when the compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb reaches full brightness. This new bulb has 8 times the lifespan of an incandescent bulb and one quarter of the mercury of an average CFL.

  2. I don’t know what I find more disturbing, the apparent European fear of “the bluish light” or Rotthaeuser’s not-so-enviro-friendly justification for the incandescent light bulb. Correction, “heat ball.” Humor aside, the negative response this well intended policy of the European Union has received (or the positive short term boost to incandescent light bulb sales) is precisely what the international community cannot afford. It is painstakingly obvious that environmental solutions must be global. Populations across the planet must be willing to overcome their petty preferences, at least when it comes to light bulbs, in order to preserve what is left of the environment. Aesthetic sacrifices will undoubtedly need to be made in an effort to reduce greenhouse emissions and other similar concerns. I wonder if the European Union were to accept Rotthaeuser’s assertion, would an acceptable alternative require “heat ball” users to reduce the usage of more traditional heating appliances? We ask too much.

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