Wednesday, January 02, 2008

One Billion Bulbs

I was reading the Calvin College alumni magazine over the weekend and read an interesting little piece about a man named Brian Huyser who launched a website called This started as a result of something he learned: That if each family (in the USA, I assume) switched one incandescent bulb for a compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL), it would save energy equivalent to taking 1 million cars off the road.

The article also noted that these compact fluorescent lightbulbs use up to 75% less energy than regular bulbs. One CFL can last up to ten years, save you as much as $89 in energy costs over the lifetime of a 100-watt bulb, and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air by as much as 156 pounds.

Now, I have to say that all is pretty convincing to me. In fact, I now have four or five CFLs in the house and one outside. To tell you the truth, in every other house we've been in, I didn't expect to live there long enough to make the higher cost fluorescents cost effective for us. Now, reading this info and assuming we're going to stay put for a while, it's kind of a no brainer.

But that apparently isn't good enough for our government. The United States of America has passed a law barring stores from selling incandescent light bulbs after 2012. Huh? There has to be a better way. For instance, rather than banning the old bulbs--in essence an unfunded mandate on the people of the country--why not air a bunch of public service announcements spelling out the benefits of CFLs and explaining how they have improved over the years? Look at how quickly I was convinced! Or instead of throwing money at ethanol fuel, which apparently actually consumes more energy to produce than it saves and takes valuable farmland out of the food chain, why not subsidize the purchase of fluorescent bulbs for a time? I don't think it would take long to win most folks over.

Visit to learn more about lighting options. There now are dimmable CFLs, 3-way CFLs and fluorescent floodlights.


The Waggoners said...

Hey Palmer! Did you hear this story aired on NPR about the mercury content of CFLs? It's interesting how when the gov't takes it into their hands to solve one problem, they usually create another one...

This blurb at the bottom of the story was a revealing admission:
"General Electric has been making compact fluorescents for 20 years. Now the company admits that the little bit of mercury in each bulbs could become a real problem if sales balloon as expected."

The article went on that the experts say the only solution is 'government-mandated recycling programs' which will be difficult to enforce since the bulbs are so small and easy to dump unnoticed in household trash cans. Ah ha.

Oh! And don't use them in the bathroom as humidity shortens their life. So I guess that means the poor folks in Florida are going to be spending even more on lightbulbs!

By the way, we have several CFLs in our home too.

Palmer said...

Yes, that's something I'm concerned about but not terribly so. We have a bulb in a bathroom that so far is doing well. Jeannette bought eight more yesterday so we're going to give it a chance . . . not that we have any choice, apparently!!