Thursday, September 3, 2009

A few additive comments regarding "Save the light bulb!"

Howard Brandston’s August 30th WSJ “Save the light bulb!” article (link below) got me thinking. Should we put ourselves through various levels of dark and light as we go through our days for the sake of energy savings? Perhaps, but as I see the issue – more important is the reality of the level of pain and inconvenience the new laws inflict on us as we go through our daily lives.

1) While it varies by manufacturer, CFL’s in my experience take longer to ‘warm up’ to provide the light they list as their output. This makes these lights a difficult choice for rooms you go in and out of like a bathroom or closet which would otherwise be in, on, use, off. It also makes it difficult to use these in motion sensor applications where the same is true.

2) Also, the different lighting from these bulbs makes the mirror type things we do in our daily activities (ie putting on makeup) difficult or inefficient. My wife stands in front of the mirror in our bedroom lit by GE’s natural lighting bulbs instead of in the bathroom by the CFL lighted mirror.

3) In my experience, Wal-Mart, Loews, Costco and Home Depot seem to change who in China they source their bulbs from over time. While the CFL’s claim and seem to have long warranties, the packaging and bulb markings are not consumer / warranty friendly. When a bulb dies way before it’s time, you don’t have the information handy, even with the packaging to know who it came from or to call to get it replaced under warranty. At the additional cost to the consumer for these bulbs vs standard lighting, I am not sure there is any net financial benefit to the consumer. I have been using these bulbs for various applications since they came out and have had way too many burn out before their time for my taste. What is the claim, 30x the life of a normal bulb? I am pretty sure I am in the negative on the net value vs my energy expense, even on Long Island where the cost per kilowatt hour is higher than almost anywhere else in the country.

4) The new LED bulbs have their applications but I have yet to figure out what specifically they are good for. The way light comes from them seems to be more of a spot type lighting and not yet appropriate for any application I have tried them in. I’ll keep trying because I like the brighter look and feel of the blueish white light, but how much light over what area seems to be the issue for me.

5) Disposal. It is my current understanding that the CFL’s have toxic chemicals in them. They need to be disposed of properly, differently than standard bulbs. We all know how this translates to reality, especially when return or exchange under warranty appears so difficult. Is this going to be the next Tire, Oil, Computer Monitor, Prescription Drug disposal problem?

Just a few thoughts. I would agree with Howard’s point regarding people contacting their elected officials about re-evaluating energy legislation based on real life experience with the new lighting. They may not be living the new lighting experience themselves.

Just my opinion based on some personal experience. Your thoughts and discussion are welcome.

The link for the referenced WSJ article is:


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