Incandescent Light Bulb Hoarder Confesses the Error of His Ways


Photo credit: Napalm filled tires via Flickr/CC BY-SA

I love this story, published over on the right-wing pollster Rasmussen's editorial page. In it, a self-professed environmentalist confesses that he has been hoarding incandescent bulbs for months, in anticipation of the "light bulb ban" -- before realizing the error, and utter ridiculousness, of his doing so. See, as author Froma Harrop points out, there is no incandescent light bulb ban. We've been guilty of framing it as such here at TreeHugger, much to my chagrin, but the truth is that you're still going to be able to get the exact same quality of light -- even from incandescent bulbs! Those bulbs just have to be a lot more efficient, that's all!

But get a load of Harrop's account, which I think reflects the way plenty of folks feel about the issue:

I have a horrible confession to make. I'm an environmentalist who's been hoarding old incandescent light bulbs before they become illegal in January. But it was all unnecessary, so I learn ... My objection to the squiggly "energy savers" is purely aesthetic. I can't stand the way they look ... I do use funny-looking compact florescent bulbs in the laundry room, where their raw illumination keeps me from tripping over the giant box of Tide. Nice, older light bulbs go everywhere else.

Hence, my secret stockpiling.


The dreaded CFL. Photo credit: Protographer23 via Flickr/CC BY-SA

And so the stockpiling continued until a fateful phone call from an NRDC rep that informed Harrop of the error of his ways. Truth-blast incoming:

Firstly, it is not true that the law bans incandescent bulbs. It just requires that they become more energy efficient. In fact, General Electric, Philips and Sylvania already sell incandescent bulbs that meet the new standards, while producing light and color similar to the old 100-watt bulb. Meanwhile, light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs can make light equivalent to the old 60-watt bulbs while using only 12 watts. GE makes one that looks like the bulbs piled up in my back closet.

And the expense? At $1.50, an incandescent Philips EcoVantage bulb costs about $1 more than the old-fashioned kind. Both typically last 18 months. But ... the EcoVantage's energy savings make up that price difference in seven months. "The rest of the time, you're making money." ...

Harrod also notes that the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the major industry group, has pressed Congress to not overturn the standards, since companies have already invested in new efficiency technology.

I wish every conservative incandescent light bulb-lover would read this piece. It debunks all the irrational fears of smarter bulbs in one fell swoop. It shows that the standard will do anything but eliminate freedom of choice -- it's already spurred innovation that has offered us all sorts of new consumer options in the light bulb arena. Even keeping bulbs just like the old energy hogs we've used for decades -- they just save you money now!

The column also goes a long way in exposing just how ideologically driven this remarkably stupid resistance to energy efficiency is -- the facts are clearly on one side here. And Mike has already documented how adopting these standards will save literally billions of dollars in energy costs over the next ten years. There's simply no good argument for wasting more energy and money, just to cling to a 100 year-old technology that we can more efficiently replicate anyways.

It is fun to watch Fox News crew get worked up about it though ...

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More on Light Bulb Efficiency Wars
Light Bulb Ban Would Save Consumers $12.5 Billion by 2020, Eliminate 33 Power Plants
House of Reps Passes Amendment Banning Implementation of 2007 Light Bulb Efficiency Improvement Law

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