Switch lights with this bright idea

What kind of library has no books, no need to be quiet, and might just help to save the planet? A light-bulb library, of course - and residents of one eco-friendly village are becoming the first to borrow from it.

What kind of library has no books, no need to be quiet, and might just help to save the planet?

A light-bulb library, of course - and residents of one eco-friendly village are becoming the first to borrow from it. The library has been set up in Wenhaston, near Halesworth, to encourage people to make the switch from conventional incandescent light bulbs to low-energy varieties.

The light-bulb library is a suitcase with 42 kinds of bulbs inside. Residents take it home to try them all out. The idea is to show people that low-energy bulbs are better than they may think, and that there really is a bulb to suit their every need - including some they may never have realised existed, like low-energy spotlights, candle-shaped bulbs and even dimmable bulbs.

Unlike most libraries, the loan period is overnight, or the weekend, rather than for three weeks. But on the bright side, there are no fines for bringing it back late - and even if you drop a bulb and break it, you will not be asked to pay for it.

It has been set up by Suffolk Coastal District Council, which has footed the £300 bill for the box. Wenhaston has been chosen for the trial because villagers are already trying to be green.

They held a village energy day in June to inspire people to save the planet, and are calculating their carbon footprint. Villagers filled in a questionnaire about their habits, and the results are being put together by the CRed carbon reduction project at UEA in order to measure the village's contribution to global warming.

Most Read

There is already a waiting list of villages who want the library next, and Suffolk Coastal is planning to buy another one by the end of the year. It will stay in each place for two to three months to give everyone a chance to use it.

The idea has been tried elsewhere in the country but this is the first time it has been done in this region. In fact it has only come about because council environmental health officer Teresa Howarth saw a similar scheme in Charlbury, Oxford-shire, where her parents live.

The library has only just arrived in Wenhaston and has yet to be loaned out, but village “librarian” Christine Buttle has tried a few.

Mrs Buttle, a supply teacher, said: “There are all sorts - old-fashioned curly-wurly ones, spotlights, push-down ones, bayonet ones. There is even a torch that you can take camping and presumably it lasts longer because it has a low-energy bulb.

“I have already taken it to my WI meeting and talked to the members about it.”

She said she already had mostly low-energy bulbs at home but had tried out some spotlights.

People can buy the bulbs through the council, which has arranged a 10pc discount from the internet-based supplier Efficient Light.

The council is also encouraging local shops to stock them.

They are more expensive than conventional bulbs, particularly for the more unusual types, but use around a fifth of the electricity and last several times longer.

Andrew Nunn, the council's cabinet member for the environ-ment, said: “We want people to convert to low-energy bulbs and we know it can be a minefield of different shapes, sizes and types of fitting. So we thought it would be useful if we had a suitcase that people can take home and try.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter