Sunday, 9 September 2007

Millionaire misses point

That nice young Zac Goldsmith was on telly this morning, explaining that people would get Stamp Duty Land Tax rebates if they make their home a bit 'greener' (whatever that is) before they sell it.

I agree that altho' legally the purchaser has to pay the SDLT, it is economically borne by the vendor, so far so good. The BBC website says that it'd be the purchaser claiming the rebate, comes to the same thing.

Zac probably lives in a part of London where houses are around the £1,000,000 mark, so are liable to SDLT at 4% when they are bought/sold, so there's potentially £40,000 to be saved by having a water-butt and some energy saver light bulbs (which you promptly unscrew and take with you once the inspector has been).

What he overlooks is that there is a nil rate band of £125,000. In 2006, about 40% of residential property sales were below this threshold. So it ain't going to motivate them at all. Even above the threshold, SDLT is 1%, so if you are selling an average home for £200,000, there's only £2,000 to be saved.

Tim W points out another daft mistake here.


Henry North London 2.0 said...

Billionaire my friend

Mark Wadsworth said...

Probably true, but I was going for alliteration.

j. said...

Better leave the energy saver light bulbs in place. They contain mercury and if you drop one, the your house is contaminated, though the green vendors of the bulb now play down the risks somehow:

I would think a vacuumcleaner would spread the mercury all over the house and be forever contaminated itself.

If people don't follow these rules, the house is contaminated, so my advice is: don't buy houses with CFL bulbs. :)

[[I am no expert]]

Mark Wadsworth said...

Neither am I, but mercury is not that poisonous. Apparently they used to use it as a cure for constipation or something. It's the fumes that are unhealthy. The amount of mercury in an energy saver is absolutely minimal. Don't they have it in fluourescent tubes as well? Something to do with the starter?

j. said...

The mercury in fluourescent tubes is different and not dangerous.

The mercury in CFL is dangerous and special care must be used.

Don't call a toxicologist: a woman in Maine, USA, did and ended up paying $2000 for the cleanup!

Henry North London 2.0 said...

In the land of the blind the one eyed man is Prime minister...

I saw it on another blog It made me laugh

Tim Worstall said...

"The mercury in fluourescent tubes is different and not dangerous.

The mercury in CFL is dangerous and special care must be used. "


Sorry, this is simply not true. My day job is supplying the people (but no, not with mercury) who make the mercury to go into lightbulbs so you might assume that I'm biased. Or possibly even informed.

The amount of Hg in a CFL is trivial and isn't dangerous.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Tim, thanks!

j. said...

So, I can vacuum a broken bulb despite what the manufacturers say?

More interesting is the long term effects: most used bulbs will end up as normal garbage and then certainly break either under transport or at the landfill and then through rain reach water and be accumulated in fish. Not that I am worried as I don't eat much fish.

Mark Wadsworth said...

So, I can vacuum a broken bulb despite what the manufacturers say?

Yes of course, what else can you do? Have you ever broken one? I've only had energy savers for the past 14 years (some of the original ones are still going!) and we've never actually smashed one yet, the glass seems quite thick.

j. said...

I don't have any CFLs as the savings are minimal, since bulbs are not on 24h/7 in my house. My most used lamps use fluourescent tube.

The Maine DEP’s Web page: “What if I accidentally break a fluorescent bulb in my home?”

Don’t vacuum bulb debris because a standard vacuum will spread mercury-containing dust throughout the area and contaminate the vacuum. Ventilate the area and reduce the temperature. Wear protective equipment like goggles, coveralls and a dust mask.

Collect the waste material into an airtight container. Pat the area with the sticky side of tape. Wipe with a damp cloth. Finally, check with local authorities to see where hazardous waste may be properly disposed.

The DEP's guidelines are much the same as what the manufacturers say.

I always wonder why environmentalists love these bulbs. Since most houses probably use a few bulbs at a time something like 5-6 hours daily, the savings in CO2 are small compared to what humans exhale. Making sport and physical work illegal would make a real difference compared to the savings by changing to CFLs. :)

To give an indication of the scale of mercury: There are something like four US-billion light bulbs in USA alone. I don't have the figures for Europe and Asia. Each CFL contains five milligrams of mercury. Since there are no alternative way of disposing of these bulbs, the vast majority of the used bulbs will break either in the garbage trucks during transport or from the pressure at the landfill (or be incinerated [mustn't happen]) and mercury will eventually reach the environment.

Anyway, never mind; I am old and will probably die of old age just before the problems become serious, so I don't have a dog in this fight.

Mark Wadsworth said...

I suppose the advice must be, try not to break them!