Saturday, February 25, 2012

Are Incandescent Bulbs Really that Bad?

Ok; So, here's a thought. Everyone is always railing about how traditional incandescent light bulbs are so inefficient because in addition to generating light, they also emit a lot of their energy as non-visible heat. Compact Florescent Lights on the other hand convert more energy into light with less wasted as heat. I get it.

However... is this really so much of a problem... at least in the winter? Here's what I'm getting at: If you live an a climate that requires heating, then the extra energy being converted to heat rather than light in an incandescent light bulb is not really being wasted--it is heating the room to some extent. Yes, I realize that it is much more efficient to just burn fossil fuel to heat a room, but the added bonus of useful heat generated by traditional bulbs should be considered in the CFL argument along with the other factors such as quality of light, dim-ability, etc. It's just not as clear-cut as "Edison Bulb"=Bad, CFL = Good.

The key to efficiency is to getting the most use/value out of something. It's common sense that some situations would be better for CFLs than others. I believe that most people can figure out for themselves that a hard-to-replace light location would be ideal for a longer-lasting CFL or LED, but a cozy bedside reading lamp deserves a good, old-fashioned incandescent bulb. Further, who's to say that one person couldn't simple conserve by leaving their incandescent lights off most of the time, while another could install CFLs that are on constantly?

Since it is very clear that there are a multitude of situations where either CFL, LED, or Incandescent would be ideal, it would be best that all of these choices remain available to some extent. I can't possibly begin to imagine all the reasons that go into every homeowners' personal light bulb choices. So, how can the federal government begin to believe that they know the best bulb choices for everyone? They don't, which is why government regulation of light bulbs to this extent is to say the least, unenlightened.

The claim that it is about saving the environment by conserving electricity is a little flimsy as well. Conservation is a wonderful goal, and I support it, but there are so many situations where a one-size-fits-all policy is much less efficient in reality. Wouldn't it be simpler to promote conservation and let individuals make their own informed decisions? How much energy would be wasted in actually enforcing a strict light bulb regulation? Just imagine, some bureaucrat sitting at a computer tracking down meter readings or border patrol agents wasting time and fuel to go after light bulb smugglers. Really efficient.... Americans are talking about legalizing marijuana because too many resources are wasted on the war on drugs and incarceration of offenders. Yet, we would consider using our precious resources of time and energy to pursue light bulb violators?

The same goes for those interested in extreme salt regulation and taxing of sugary drinks, etc. We don't have the resources to go after pot dealers and users, and yet we want to go after salt and sugar? Does this make sense? Does it make common sense?

As always, comments welcome. Thanks.

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