New Zealand to ban old light bulbs

WELLINGTON, New Zealand Energy Minister David Parker said incandescent bulbs would be phased out and replaced with compact fluorescent bulbs across the country.

"The traditional light bulb is very old technology and very inefficient. Only five per cent of the energy it uses generates light -- the rest is wasted as heat," 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 said.

The sales ban will take effect next year, the same time as neighbor Australia introduces a similar ban.

Government spokeswoman on energy efficiency and conservation Jeanette Fitzsimons said the range of fluorescent light bulbs on the market already saves money and electric power for New Zealand families, while pricing subsidies by the nation's Electricity Commission make them cheaper to buy.

"Each year we spend approximately NZ$660 million (US$497 million) on electricity for lighting in this country, generating about 2.65 million tons (2.9 million U.S. tons) of greenhouse gas emissions," she said.

"New Zealanders will be able to save almost NZ$500 million (US$377 million) by 2020, just by changing the lights," Fitzsimons said.

Unlike Australia, New Zealanders will be allowed to import old-style light bulbs into the country for personal use.

"Officials considered an import ban but felt we could achieve our objective of keeping them off the market with the point of sales ban," Fitzsimons said.

The New Zealand Parliament is debating an emissions trading scheme as part of a bid to cut harmful greenhouse gas emission levels aimed at making the country carbon neutral.

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