Thursday, February 08, 2007

California leads by example with flourescent lighting

California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine is proposing a bill that would ban the use of incandescent light bulbs (the type just about everyone has in their home). These would be replaced with compact fluorescent lights. You can read what he has to say about it here. Before you get all bent out of shape, right wingers, know that the incandescent is on its way out anyway. Phillips will stop producing incandescents by 2012. I'm sure most of the industry has similar plans. The ban will only make things happen a little earlier. But there's no reason to gripe about it anyway; fluorescent lights are an improvement in every way over incandescents:

While it will not give opinion on the possible California law, the EPA recommends CFLs.

"They save money and energy," EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones said. "They are more convenient than other alternatives and come in different sizes and shapes to fit almost any fixture."

Also, CFLs generate 70 percent less heat than incandescent lights, Jones said.

About a fifth of the average U.S. home's electricity costs pays for lighting, which means even if CFLs initially cost more than conventional lightbulbs, consumers will save, Jones said.

A 20-watt CFL gives as much light as a 75-watt conventional bulb, and lasts 13 times longer, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit group studying energy issues.

Southern California Edison, an Edison International subsidiary and one of the state's biggest utilities, runs a program that cuts the cost of a CFL by $1 to $2.50. In the past year, SCE has helped consumers buy 6 million CFLs, it said.

California Energy Commission member Arthur Rosenfeld said an average home in California will save $40 to $50 per year if CFLs replace all incandescent bulbs.

People may be put off by the fact that they cost a couple of dollars more, but you have to remember to factor in the savings over the life of the bulb. CFLs last longer and take less energy to power. As for environmental impact, while there is mercury in fluorescent lights, more mercury is emitted from coal-burning plants over the life of an incandescent than there is in a CFL plus the coal it takes to power it.

All in all, it's a win-win situation. I doubt Texas has anywhere near the foresight to put this on the agenda, especially since Rick Perry seems to want us to burn more coal, but as individuals we can start on it anyway and wait for the government to catch up. Besides, it'll save us all some money.


Xanthippas said...

It's long past time this sort of thing be "encouraged" by law. I have to say I was unaware of the significant advantages, though I saw on the news not long ago that some Wal-Marts actually set up displays to educate their customers on the significant advantages of incandescent lights.

Nat-Wu said...

I think a lot of people are scornful of the idea that we need to legislate energy usage. You talk about legislation and people assume you mean caps on AC usage or some absolute limit on electricity usage or things like that. The truth is though, that there are energy-efficient alternatives to just about everything we use and if people don't take advantage of them it is an injury to the nation as a whole. That's why it's important that the legislature put us on the path of energy independence and not leave it to public whims. It's time that we make some changes.