If you’ve been following the whole compact fluorescent craze, you’ve probably heard about a bill designed to slowly force manufacturers to make light bulbs more efficient. It’s a serious issue — considering that each and every person in modern nations has at least a couple of these burning a few hours a day, this is fertile ground for big worldwide energy savings. But it could be a serious pain in the ass, too. The law’s “higher standards” have pretty much set the stage for traditional incandescent bulbs to become unavailable over the next decade, but CFLs (and LEDs) haven’t yet reached fully comparable price levels.
Whatever your politics, I’m guessing you can see how this could become a charged issue, especially in times of governmental (and personal) financial duress.
This week CNNMoney ran an article giving us a taste of the battle that’s forming around this legislation — and the possibility of voting it out before it takes effect. You can head over there via the link below to read about the politics, but honestly that part of it doesn’t interest me much. What does interest me are the arguments for and against the law.
CNNMoney points out that the the NRDC (who has their own motivations, I suppose) believes that even with the higher prices of more efficient bulbs, “Americans would save a total of $12 billion a year by 2020 if the standards are left in place due to lower electricity bills.” Less energy used equals less pollution, too. Opponents, though, note that the mercury content of CFLs might offset some of the pollution benefits of the bulb’s more efficient use of power, and let’s face it: these bulbs aren’t cheap.
A quick trip to the local big box’s website shows that a “100W equivalent” CFL bulb runs about $3.50 ($7 for two) whereas a 100W “soft white multipurpose incandescent” bulb costs just $0.34 ($8 for 24). A “60W equivalent” LED bulb runs a whopping $40.
I haven’t done the math yet, but I’m guessing you’d probably come out ahead on the CFLs, though the ones I found were the twist-type, which don’t work (for me, anyway, visually-speaking) in exposed installations. And that’s assuming that you don’t break one early by other means. The LEDs are cool. I tested one for Popular Science a few years ago, and the one I got in for test is still burning in a lamp here in the house. It’s cool to the touch all the time, which is nice. But not $40 vs. $0.34 nice, at least in my opinion.
So what do you think? (About the lights, not the politics, thank you. I’m sure your party is the best. You don’t need to tell me here.) Have you already made this swap at your house? Do you think it’s a good idea to take the old bulbs off the market? Let us know in comments.
(Thanks, Jeff Kubina, for the great CC-licensed photo.)
Light Bulb Ban Riles Up Lawmakers [CNNMoney]