by Professor Chris Rhodes, Oil Price:
Making choices about the kind of light bulbs we should be using, on the simple basis of energy consumption, and hence carbon emissions, may be a little short-sighted. Thus, the old fashioned incandescent bulbs are no longer commonly on sale, though there is something of a black market in them, due to the poorer quality of light given out by their alternatives – low-power CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) and LEDs (light emitting diodes).
The first incandescent (filament) bulb was invented by Joseph Swan, who gave the first public demonstration of the device at a lecture in Newcastle upon Tyne, in the north east of England, on 18 December 1878. Swan later illuminated his house, in neighbouring Gateshead, by means of the technology. Credit for the incandescent bulb is often, but incorrectly, given to Thomas Edison, who invented it independently, but later than Swan. In 1881, the Savoy Theatre in London was lit by Swan incandescent light bulbs; the first theatre and the first public building in the world to be lit entirely by electrical power. The basic principle of the incandescent bulb has changed little in the past 135 years, of which the main criticism is that most of the energy consumed by the bulb is discarded as heat, rather than providing useful light.