Do CFLs Increase Greenhouse Gases? No.


This might just save the incandescent bulb from oblivion: The gluh lampe picks up the heat energy produced by the light bulb and warms the clay brick, which radiates for up to an hour after switching off the light. more in TreeHugger

John Lorinc writes in the New York Times about a certain Professor Blunden of the University of Manitoba who suggests that CFLs are counterproductive in cold climates.

No doubt by this afternoon it will be on Fox News to show how Gorebulbs are evil and Michele Bachmann will write it into the Lightbulb Freedom of Choice Act, so we better try to nip this one in the bud right now.
"the brick can easily be disconnected from the bulb and can be used as a bed-warmer, just like in granny's times."

In cold-weather climates such as Canada's, Blunden said, older incandescent bulbs do more than just light our homes. During the long winter months, they also generate heat. The new C.F.L. bulbs, on the other hand, produce minimal heat so the loss has to be made up by fossil-fuel burning gas, oil or wood to heat your home.

"To some extent, the case [in favor of C.F.L.s] has been oversold" because of the offset in higher heating costs, he said.

Right. Or maybe not.

1. This isn't news. There was coverage of a study last year by Michael Ivanco of Atomic Energy of Canada and Professor Bryan Karney of the University of Toronto that said much the same thing. Theoretically, if you live in Quebec or get your electricity entirely from emission free hydro power and you had a gas furnace, you might have a lower carbon footprint with incandescent bulbs giving you heat. But very few people do- they have lots of clean electricity and they mostly heat with it.

We looked at that study in TreeHugger (Study Shows Incandescent Bulbs Are Warm and Toasty) and it sparked a big debate in comments, including "Lloyd Alter wrote this article, he's a biased son-of-a-bitch blogger who writes for treehugger and probably has no experience in HVAC, thermodynamics, or electrical engineering."

2) It isn't true. Does it seem logical to burn fossil fuels to make heat that boils water that makes steam that turns turbines that generates electricity that gets transported long distances to simply turn it back into heat? No.

Coal fired electrical plants generate between 200 and 230 pounds of CO2 per million BTUS, whereas natural gas releases 116 pounds per MMBtu. So burning that bulb for heat generates twice as much CO2 and we haven't even accounted for transmission losses.

3) You would have to have two sets of bulbs. or you are running your air conditioning harder in the summer and giving back your illusory gains.

4. All calories of heat are not created equal. Heating systems are designed according to codes or by engineers to put the heat where you need it, low and usually under windows to combat drafts. Lightbulbs are often at the ceilings or in lamps far from the floor. Without proper distribution you are going to get stratification of the heat, with most of it up at the ceiling where it is not effective. Put in a fan? More power consumption.

John Lorinc concludes by quoting an environmentalist who questions the study. I suppose I should be thankful for that. More in New York Times

More in TreeHugger:
Study Shows Incandescent Bulbs Are Warm and Toasty

Tags: Canada | Incandescent Bulbs