The great bulb debate

ONTARIO - It appears Canadians are not embracing Ottawa's plan to ban incandescent light bulbs by 2012. In fact, nearly all 33 pages of feedback on the initiative, compiled by Environment Canada, is negative - people don't like the idea of being forced to make the change and are worried that mercury will be released into the environment when the new fluorescent bulbs are discarded.

But despite the misgivings of Canadians, using fluorescent bulbs make sense. While more expensive, the new bulbs require 75 per cent less electricity to operate.

That saves energy and reduces electricity bills. Generally, lighting accounts for between five and 10 per cent of the total bill.

Based on those arguments, it shouldn't be necessary to ban incandescent bulbs -- in this case by making it illegal to sell them. Clearly, Canadians are tired of governments imposing bans in an effort to mould their behaviour.

Canadians would rather make the choice for themselves, so let them. Governments can encourage consumers to embrace the use of energy-efficient lighting, and they might consider incentives to buy fluorescent bulbs - like foregoing sales taxes. A coupon campaign launched by the Ontario Power Authority, for example, saw more than 2.8 million people try fluorescent bulbs at a discount.

Allowing people to save money by making responsible choices is a better idea than taking away their right to choose.



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