Consumer Technology Republicans lead fight to block energy efficiency standards for light bulbs.

Published on July 13th, 2013 | by Tina Casey


Light Bulb Wars Roar Back Into House Of Representatives

July 13th, 2013 by  

Hold on to your seat belts, the light bulb wars have just blown up again. Light bulbs, as you may recall, have become a perennial excuse for certain federal legislators to whip up the conservative base, by railing again new federal energy efficiency standards. The new standards have already prompted the lighting industry to come up with new energy saving lighting technologies and create new green jobs here in the US, but still, the light bulb warriors continue their desperate battle against…er, progress?

Republicans lead fight to block energy efficiency standards for light bulbs.

Light bulb by audi_insperation.

The Light Bulb Wars

A bit of a recap is in order for those of you new to the subject.

Back in the Bush Administration, Congress enacted federal energy efficiency standards that apply to the manufacture of light bulbs (not to the purchase of light bulbs) in the US.

The idea was that old fashioned incandescent light bulbs are low-hanging fruit in the energy conservation game, because they waste about 90 percent of the energy they use in the form of heat and the basic technology has not changed since horse-and-buggy days.

All was well and good until President Obama won his first term in 2008 and the phase-in began. Light bulbs became a political football for the usual suspects (cue Michele Bachmann, R-MN), who positioned the new standards as another example of government intrusion into our homes, even though the new regulations say nothing about what consumers can or cannot screw into a socket.

Return Of The Light Bulb Wars

For the past couple of years the light bulb torch has been passed Representative Michael Burgess (R) of Texas, who just spearheaded a vote in the House adding language to the energy and water spending bill, to prevent the Department of Energy from funding any effort to implement the new standards.

This time around the anti-efficiency language was a little more sophisticated. As reported by Pete Kasperowicz of The Hill, Rep. Burgess reasoned that “the federal government should not use regulations to impose standards that force consumers to buy the pricier bulbs…the market should be allowed to sort it out.”

Burgess Aims At Light Bulbs, Shoots Down Jobs In Texas

Ironically, Burgess’s home state of Texas neatly illustrates how the new lighting standards have benefited the US lighting industry. We’ve been following a company called Firefly LED Lighting, based in Austin, that got its start just before the new standards began their phase-in, and it’s been growing ever since.

We first noted Firefly when it got a $3 million LED innovation award  from the Austin Technology Incubator, an initiative designed to create jobs and commercialize new technology developed at the University of Texas at Austin. Last summer, Firefly was named winner of the Technology Award in the small business division by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

The switchover to LED technology is critical to high tech job creation in the US because the high-volume LED manufacturing process dovetails with higher domestic labor costs, compared to conventional bulbs that require more hand labor. Firefly’s lights are made in the US, btw.

Quick, Lock The Barn Door! The Horses Have Escaped!

Regardless of whether or not there is funding for enforcement, Burgess’s saber-rattling is likely to succeed in irritating the US lighting industry more than anything else.

Firefly is just one example of one US startup that is heavily invested in new lighting technology. A Pennsylvania-based company called ALLED is another (GM credits the company with shaving 80 percent off its energy costs in a recent factory retrofit), and then there’s Florida’s Lighting Science Group and North Carolina’s Cree, which got into the LED business about 20 years ago and just broke through the $10 barrier for its LED models.

The real tell, though, is that the big guns in the lighting industry have already set their sights on a more energy efficient future. Global lighting giant OSRAM introduced a low cost LED model last year, and Philips came out with an LED model that looks and acts like an incandescent bulb.

Major retailres have also acted in support of the new standards, one standout example being IKEA. The company already began eliminating incandescent lights from its shelves before the first stage of the phaseout even began.

Speaking of incandescent bulbs, the new standards leave manufacturers free to update incandescent technology to the required level of energy efficiency, which Philips has done with its new halogen-enhanced Ecovantage model.

And speaking of Burgess, if that name rings a bell you may be thinking of the notorious “masturbating fetus” argument he recently advanced in support of new federal abortion restrictions.

We bring that up just in case you’ve been wondering why there seems to be such a strong connection between women’s health issues and light bulbs, at least in some minds.

Just sayin’.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • David Martin

    The author’s line says she focuses partly on military sustainability, which I find a bit puzzling. When I was 20 and in the Navy, an instructor told bluntly us that our business was killing people. His comment always stuck with me. I don’t see what’s sustainable about war. The most sustainable and energy efficient thing that could be done with the military is adopt a pacifist constitution or why not just disband the military altogether, a la Costa Rica. Since this is a day many people think about Jesus, How about following his example — refuse to fight — “Return the sword to its place. For he who lives by the sword will die by the sword.” (Mt 26:52)


    What I do might seem backward, because I try to be as efficient and use as little as I can. I hate throwing away or recycling things that aren’t broken. So I have been using CFL’s for 10 or so years and LED’s for a couple. I have a few Incandescent bulbs left which I use in the winter. Its true that 90% of the energy gets released as heat in incandescents, but in the winter that heat isn’t wasted, not in Indiana. In the summer it is absolutely idiotic to use them. Come spring time I’ll switch back to more efficient bulbs. Once these 5 or 6 hot bulbs burn out, I can get off the fall and spring bulb changing ritual.

    I have a 95% gas furnace so changing to hot bulbs in the winter causes me to use less gas. There’s no waste at the house in the winter in using hot bulbs.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I know a few people in the military. They really, really dislike war. But they signed up to protect us so they are willing to do their jobs if our politicians fail us.

      The US military understands that climate change is almost certain to be a source of conflict. As some nations get squeezed for water and food they will try to get what they need from others and/or their citizens will attempt to move to other countries. This can be the basis for more war.
      The US military has decided that the best idea is to work to minimize climate change and reduce the likelihood that they will be called on to fight climate wars. They have the recent and ongoing experience of fighting unnecessary oil wars.

      • David Martin

        Thanks for the response, Mr Wallace. (Its just a sign of respect)

        I thought you might have something to say about using incandescent bulbs in the winter. No?


        I wonder if the day will come, not likely in my lifetime, but if the Energiewende goes complete to 100% renewable, and using fossil fuels becomes illegal, that instead of going to war to get access to oil, people get into conflict for using fossil fuels. Those who use fossil fuels will be viewed as illegal poachers. So militarists can use their robots and drones, flying on solar and wind to wipe out the climate destroyers. Similar to how the US uses its power to promote violence in the “War on Drugs”, in the coca fields of South America, for example, where indigenous people are trying to live as they have for centuries. Only this time the conflict will be “green”. Yay for sustainability!

        I don’t think there’s much hope really, not until men quit using violence to solve problems. When will that happen?

        I’d go to prison before I’d take up arms against a man who I never met from another country. The whole thing is absurd. I won’t participate, beyond paying taxes.

        I think Mandela and Mark (read the war prayer if you haven’t) had a lot of good points on war and conflict, as did Martin on who the greatest purveyor of violence is.

        • Bob_Wallace

          “I’d go to prison before I’d take up arms against a man who I never met from another country. ”

          I would not go into the gas chamber without some resistance. Nor would I stand by and let innocent people be killed.

  • Parkerthon

    I have tried literally 20 different variants from LED, to Halogen, to CFL. Nothing is close to the very high quality of incandescent light for home use. I would love to save money off my electrical bill however I can, but these bulbs should still be available to people that want to pay for their use. Arbitrarily banning them is not the answer! I have purchased and used CFL’s and LED’s wherever it makes sense, but why should I not still have a choice for select situations? I don’t need the government telling me what light bulb to use. It’s also silly to attribute the recent growth in lighting alternatives to the US move to ban older style bulbs. This maturation and growth has been due to global demand for energy as well as the slow and steady development of LED technology for lighting.This is technological progress stimulated by natural demand due to rising energy prices world wide, pure and simple, and would have happened regardless of the government making laws and not a moment sooner.

    • Bob_Wallace

      The government doesn’t know what is best or you don’t have a clue?

      Let me think on that one for a while…………

      • Parkerthon

        Don’t think too long or you might get brain damage.That’s what the government would like you to believe anyway. Just let them make decisions for us all… we shouldn’t have a clue anyway. Honestly, I don’t mind government legislating, but when they try to mess with supply and demand, bad things happen. They simply can’t react fast enough to the subtle changes that happen. Light bulbs and toilets are perfect recent examples. They should never force consumers to purchase inferior products. If you don’t believe me, try to flush a toilet from circa late 90’s with more than two pieces of toilet paper. Try dimming an LED light bulb and see what that light looks light(after you spent $20 on one). Actually write down how long your expensive CFL’s last you and track it over two years. The results will surprise you. So yeah, I have a clue. You should get one too.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Hate to tell you, but the late ’90s is last century.

          I’ve been using CFLs for over 15 years. I’ve had exactly one burn out.

          Man, what a wuss.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “Break one and clean it up with your bare hands with no protection.”

            Apparently CFLs are dangerous nonsense because if you break one you can’t clean up the shattered glass with your unprotected hands.

  • David Clough

    First, I like cfl light bulbs, especially where I use the light for a long time. For the places that I only have the light on a minute or less, why should I have to buy an expensive light bulb ? The halogen light bulbs aren’t really that much cheaper than a cfl. I did buy one led light bulb, but it gave me headaches. It caused more radio interference, and was a whiter light which I don’t really like. My first use of a cfl was in a plastic desk light because I wanted something that created less heat in it even though the sticker in it said I could use up to a 60 watt bulb in it. Tried the cfl light bulbs other places too. But once they phaseout the 60 and 40 watt light bulbs I will go back to using just the one cfl in the desk light and use my small stock of regular light bulbs. I just hate the government telling me what I can or can’t use !

    • Bob_Wallace

      Suck it up. Old, wasteful light bulbs are going away.

      • Parkerthon

        You are probably like my neighbors that have decided now that they can finally afford bright white LED lights outside and in, they can leave them on 24-7 because they use so little power. Before they would turn them on/off like normal people using timers that fret about the power bill. Now they are lighting up the whole neighborhood around them with those god awful bright white beacons. Bet congress didn’t think of that for us, did they?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Nope. I’m nothing like your neighbors.

          I’m also not a whiner.

      • David Clough

        Yes, and even the hundreds I stocked up will be gone someday also. :p

        • Bob_Wallace

          Some people are that foolish….

          • David Clough

            When it is below 0 outside, and the windchill just makes it worse, this old building I live in that is now 100 years old, even though the radiators blast away and my thermometers say it is 80 degrees, it can still feel cold if you aren’t right next to the radiator. It actually takes less electricity to use an old style light bulb than to have a space heater run on low. Even if that heater only runs 10 minutes in an hour, that is 72-75 watts, plus the 13 watt average of a cfl light bulb if it is night and you need light. Where a 40 or 60 watt regular light bulb will provide the light and the extra heat if the person is near the light. So what is more energy efficient to use over 80 watts an hour, or to use a 40 watt light bulb ?

          • A Real Libertarian

            The most efficient form of heating is a heater, not an inefficient light bulb.

          • David Clough

            But the very reason behind making light bulbs more efficient is because they make better heaters than lights. So if you need both, they should be very efficient. By the way, the cheapest way to get rid of dirty electricity in electrical wires from stuff like motors (fridges), and even cfl and led light bulbs, is a resistor in the electrical circuit. The most common resistor used by people, the regular light bulb.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Buy a heating pad and sit on it.

            Then start tightening up your house.

            I cannot believe how far people will go in an attempt to justify knuckleheaded right-wing positions.

          • David Clough

            I live in an apartment and I don’t control the thermostat. Old style 5 foot tall windows probably don’t help much in the winter either. This isn’t a left or right issue for me. It is just being realistic.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “It is just being realistic.”

          • David Clough

            Your self portraits are pretty ugly.

          • A Real Libertarian

            That’s you with the results of your IQ test.

          • David Clough

            You are just trying to egg me on, and I won’t play your game. Pretty dumb of me.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “Pretty dumb of me.”

            Thus the IQ test results.

          • David Clough

            I would tell you to eat s h i t and die, but you are already dead my friend.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, folks. Time to get back to solving the world’s energy problems.

          • David Clough

            Why does the light bulbs in my residence have to be more efficient, yet no one wants to make 400 watt lights used where I work more efficient. At least 3 times if not 4 times the lights there than what is in my apartment.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Perhaps you need to think about changing employers. Commerce and industry have largely grasped the concept that being energy efficient saves them money and makes them more competitive.

            The smarter companies will eat the lunch of the knuckleheads.

          • David Clough

            Worse pay and more older and worn out equipment to work with at the other 2 businesses similar to where I work. Don’t think that either would be a step up.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “I would tell you to eat s h i t and die, but you are already dead my friend.”

            No, just the part of me that would laugh with anyone who’d say that, instead of at them.

            Actually it was during my second grade graduation…

            Ah, never mind, just rambling.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “But the very reason behind making light bulbs more efficient is because they make better heaters than lights. So if you need both, they should be very efficient. ”

            And if you need one and need the opposite of the other? (See: Summer.)

            “By the way, the cheapest way to get rid of dirty electricity in electrical wires from stuff like motors (fridges), and even cfl and led light bulbs, is a resistor in the electrical circuit. The most common resistor used by people, the regular light bulb.”

            See pic.

            “And I already showed a very real energy usage of both using a space heater on low with a cfl light bulb for light vs. using a regular light bulb. Ignore the facts and believe the lies all you want.”

            See pic.

          • David Clough

            And in the summer I can choose to use the more energy efficient light bulbs that are also cooler.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, David, if you’ve convinced yourself that heating your house with light bulbs is a smart thing to do then go out and buy a few cases and fire ’em up.

            I’m convinced you’d be better off tightening up your house and using a heater for heat…..

          • David Clough

            I never said I heat my whole place with light bulbs. When it is very cold outside the radiators are nice and warm, but this old place can still be a bit drafty. If I don’t need any extra heat really, I can use my desklight with the cfl in it. If I feel that I need a little bit of extra heat I have a table lamp near my pc with and old style 34 watt light bulb. Some early attempt and energy efficiency with regular light bulbs. It isn’t like I have all my lights on. Right now other than the table lamp all the other light bulbs I use are cfl. But I also don’t like the government telling me what I have to buy, so I am tempted to replace the lights in my kitchen and bathroom with regular light bulbs just to not obey those that think they can run my life in this free country.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “just to not obey those that think they can run my life in this free country.”

            Hey, why don’t you snort your inspiration on the front desk of a police station?

            Ya know, it being a free country and all.

          • David Clough

            I don’t believe that there is any laws against snorting soda, but then again my nose would hate me.

          • A Real Libertarian



            And those… those are totally pop rocks too.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “And in the summer I can choose to use the more energy efficient light bulbs that are also cooler.”

        • Bob_Wallace

          Shame on you boys. Making the housekeeper clean up after you on Christmas Eve.

          • A Real Libertarian


          • Bob_Wallace

            No big deal. I was a player as well….

          • A Real Libertarian


          • David Clough

            Everyone enjoy the energy efficient future we will be having in lighting. Hopefully the taste of mercury contaminated water isn’t that bad.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “Hopefully the taste of mercury contaminated water isn’t that bad.”

            Good thing demand decreases due to mandatory efficiency is shutting down all those mercury spewing coal plants, huh?

          • David Clough

            Actually it isn’t. The government has just been getting tougher on coal power plants recently. But some places (like the state I live in) have no laws regarding the disposal of cfl light bulbs, nor is there even a place within my state that accepts them for proper disposal.

          • A Real Libertarian

            Do you actually think CFLs cause a toxic spill when they break or something?

          • David Clough

            When a town of a over a thousand households start throwing away even one of two cfls a year, it will add up fast.

          • A Real Libertarian

            You know what adds up faster?

            A coal plant.

          • David Clough

            That is why coal plants now days are required to have what is called scrubbers to reduce air pollution and capture up to 90% of its mercury emissions.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Many don’t and that’s why 150 US coal plants are in the process of closing.
            And since we’ve implemented efficiency measures like cramming efficient light bulbs down the gullet of persecuted freemen we can do without their power.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, do the right thing David and help set up a collection center.

            All sorts of retailers such as Ikea, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. take CFLs for recycling.

            Be a doer and not a complainer.

          • David Clough

            No Ikea, Home Depot or Lowes where I live.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, set yourself up as a collection point for your village and take them to an appropriate place when you have enough.

            Be a good boy scout. Earn a merit badge.

          • Bob_Wallace

            There’s only a tiny amount of mercury in a CFL. Putting them in a landfill is not a terrible option.

            Much better than spewing mercury all over the countryside from coal stacks.
            Just think. We quit burning coal and after an appropriate amount of time seafood would be safe once more…..

          • David Clough

            Seafood from the Pacific may make you glow in the dark though thanks to the Japan nuclear disaster when they had that big earthquake. Here is one more fact to think about regarding energy efficiency. In 1987 the town of Traer, Iowa distributed 18,000 free cfl bulbs to its residents. The result was that residential electricity use actually rose by 8% due to people using more lights and leaving them on longer.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Come on. That’s one of those extraordinary claims that calls for proof.
            Everyone would have to burn more than 4x as many lights.

            Let’s see the data.

          • David Clough

            It has been reported in more than one article. Since it was 1987 and at least the cfls I saw at the time were magnetic ballast instead of the newer electric, it is reasonable as the family of a friend of mine back then had a regular flourescent lights in their kitchen and they always left it on since the ballist didn’t start the lights that well, I was told at the time that it was more efficient than regular light bulbs so it didn’t really matter if it was on all the time. So now I think how was those 2 tubes that were probably 40 watts each cheaper to run all the time than a normal light fixture that maybe had 2 60 watt bulbs in, but could be turned on and off easily been cheaper in the long run ? People back then seemed to turn off regular lights they didn’t need anymore, but one that was energy efficient was ok to just leave on.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m calling reindeer shit on that story….

          • David Clough

            The people I knew, or the test in Traer, Iowa ? It has also been proven that as people get vehicles that use less gasoline, and if gasoline stays cheap that they tend to drive more and thus use more gas and create more pollution.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Show us the data, David.

            An article will not do. Actual data, David.

            That’s two highly questionable claims you’ve made. Time to back them up.

          • David Clough

            Granted the Traer, Iowa one there is probably no real way to prove it was the light bulbs for the increased electricity usage. It is possible maybe a big workplace in that town was slow and more people were at home watching tv instead of being at work and their televisions off.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ‘Twas the night before Christmas and David was out trolling….

          • David Clough

            Actually I started looking at replies to articles that I had commented on. Looking for the video on youtube about the gasoline… it was a few years ago that I saw it.

          • David Clough

            You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you that big oil gave money to the women’s Christian movement to lobby congress to ban alcohol back before prohibition so that only the oil companies would have fuel for the automobile.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I have no basis on which to establish belief.

          • David Clough

            Which came first, the automobile or the gas station ?

          • David Clough

            Which came first the diesel engine or diesel fuel ?

          • David Clough

            Why do we pay to get rid of the oil companies’ toxic waste. Gasoline is pretty much what is left over after they make their products out of oil. They needed a use for their toxic waste and discovered that it could power the automobile.

          • Bob_Wallace

            With just a little effort you could be annoying.

          • David Clough

            The truth is annoying. The truth is that the big companies that make light bulbs know they can make more money off of more efficient light bulbs, but didn’t want to stop making the cheap light bulbs as some other company could spring up and make the cheap light bulbs and ruin their business. They needed the cheap light bulbs to be illegal to make or import so they could still be control of the light bulb market and keep their profits. They were the ones that lobbied congress. Not to save the planet, but to increase and save their profits.

          • Bob_Wallace

            More reindeer shit.

            The leading company in the LED business right now is Cree. An upstart.
            Why don’t you hang up your stocking and go to bed. Perhaps Santa will leave you some common sense….

          • David Clough

            They didn’t want cheap regular light bulbs to be made and take away from their profits. If cfl and led light bulbs are so great, then why does the government have to make the people use them ?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Because some of you people are just plain dumb.

          • David Clough

            Why does the country of Israel, in their light bulb ban laws, allow for the continued use of 40 watt regular light bulbs ? Are you calling a whole country dumb now ?

          • David Clough

            Calling me dumb because I have 1 lamp with an old style light bulb that I only use once in awhile for a specific reason. I guess it was dumb of me to switch to energy efficient light bulbs before the 2007 law was even passed. I better just switch them all back now cause I was dumb.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you had already switched then the shoe didn’t fit.

          • Bob_Wallace


            Don’t know if he had a red nose.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The livery stable.

          • David Clough

            I’m not sorry. The night was getting boring anyways.

          • David Clough

            Just doing my part to make sure people can do their jobs and stay employed. 😉

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ll let you know when I see my first payment for this….

          • A Real Libertarian

            Does that include hearing about money saving green products?

            Because if yes then I’m betting we’ve all made money here.

      • David Clough
  • Royce Jones

    A big part of the problem is that the manufacture of high efficiency new bulbs, which btw contain the poison mercury, shifted to China and they started using substandard materials in the bulbs. So we would buy a more expensive energy saving bulbs that would often fail in a few days. Then we had to make special trips to dispose of the badly made bulbs.

    • Bob_Wallace

      You know, if you took that mercury-containing light bulb outside, broke it open, and spread its mercury around you would have added far less mercury to our environment than if you had been using incandescent bulbs and causing more coal to be burned.

      If bulbs were failing in a “few days’ then chances are good you were either a) putting them in enclosed containers/lights (CLFs don’t like to get hot) or b) you were buying a bad brand.

      Now you have the option of purchasing LEDs. No mercury. Don’t mind being closed up in a fixture. You are in luck.

      Do read some reviews and pick a good brand.

      • Royce Jones

        You know if you took all those mercury containing light bulbs and put them in the public dump you would have an environmental nightmare. Don’t be so quick to dismiss real concerns that people have.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Now come on, Royce. You’re going to give us old guys with hair on their face a bad name.

          CFLs going into the landfill will take that mercury underground. That’s much safer for us, our kids and grand kids than coal-spewed mercury spread all over the place.

          • Royce Jones

            I have a better idea. How about we not put all the mercury in the ground to pollute our water and also not do that coal-spewed mercury either.

      • Parkerthon

        LED’s suck at dimming(something CFL’s typically don’t do unless you pay $20 for ones that die in a year). Their light output temperature spectrum is terrible. You don’t get it, incandescent still has a place. Why can’t you(and the government) wait a 5-10 years for the technology to improve instead of ramming it down peoples throats because you have a hard on for saving watts?

        • A Real Libertarian

          “LED’s suck at dimming(something CFL’s typically don’t do unless you pay $20 for ones that die in a year). Their light output temperature spectrum is terrible.”

          [citation needed].

          “Why can’t you(and the government) wait a 5-10 years for the technology to improve instead of ramming it down peoples throats because you have a hard on for saving watts?”

          Because waiting for the free market to fix the problem works only slightly better then waiting for Jesus to do it?

  • LED fitted car models looks more attractive as compared to other models.

    Led Bulbs For Cars

  • anderlan

    I think I might be the only socially conservative but technologically and economically progressive person in America. I wish I could say people like Burgess are an exception and not the rule. And they’ve gerrymandered themselves into being spokesclowns for their communities for the foreseeable future.

  • Deni Diesel

    “The future belongs to the efficient,” was a natural gas radio commercial jingle I remember from the 80’s. Very true in most all walks of life. Many times greed kills the desire to pursue efficiency – as in the incandescent bulb market. There is a fine line between successful capitalism and failing socialism. Greed unbridled is the enemy of both. Socialism has always ended in economic failure.

    2 major barriers:
    1) Someone needed to finance the R&D of the replacement technology. Both the gov’t and private investment have. Those that succeed first will prosper first.

    2) Our general public need to understand the risk/reward scenario in their own language to grasp the need for energy efficiency. There is a payback with GOOD technology – like many of these posts reveal. I have used plenty of bad CFLs and learned from that to help me find the good ones. Those are mainly the Energy Star labeled bulbs where I could at least get a replacement bulb within 2 years with the receipt and original package.

    Let’s choose to do the right thing without relying on ‘shock effect’ language. Let the politicians sling the mud, Let me learn from your walk and try not to judge from your talk. Got kids? Try this at home…I fail miserably on a regular basis, but get back up and try again every day. I think my daughters “get it” now…

  • Maybe its the power companies lobbying, they don’t want people using less energy at home for lighting… less profits…

    • David Clough

      Actually a lot of the power companies are helping people buy cfl light bulbs by making them cheaper, and in return they get to raise their electric rates in the near future.

      • Parkerthon

        Yeah, pretty good deal for them. Have to produce less power and make more money for what they produce. I’d be selling it hard too.

  • Others

    LED bulb is 1 level better than CFL, but very expensive right now. I have CFLs in my homes, but will switch over to LEDs when the prices go down.

    Its sad that people are still clinging onto Incandescent.

    LED prices will soon go down just like the price of Solar PV panels.

    • Parkerthon

      I hope that’s true, but more importantly I hope that LED’s with accurate color(like Switch) will come around. The stuff that is out there is fine for basements, outdoor, task lighting etc, but really sucks for rooms you typically want to socialize with other people in. LED’s need to improve majorly for neutral lighting and especially with their performance when dimmed before the old bulbs have officially lost their purpose.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I am currently using a 2700K Cree 9.5 watt LED in the light next to my chair. The color, IMHO, is excellent.

        I also have a 5000K Cree 9.5 watt LED which is very “white”. I’ll probably buy only the 2700Ks from now on. The 5000K is going to the shop.

        Home Depot is now selling the Cree 9.5 LEDs for $7.97.

        Assume 4 hours average use per day, 1,460 hours. A 50.5 watt per hour savings. About 74 kWh per year. At the US average price of $0.12/kWh a savings of $8.88. Plus the cost of one or more incandescent bulbs.

        The bulb pays for itself in less than a year.

  • jburt56

    The Luddites are stomping up and down like Rumpelstiltskin again.

  • Steeple

    This should actually be something that both sides of the argument can agree on. Lighting efficiency is economic and it is a sound strategy to pursue.

    First, let’s agree that CFLs suck. The light is funky, the saving are less and you create a hazardous waste site if you drop one. GE is pregnant with CFLs so they will continue to push. People understandably are pushing back on these things.

    Meanwhile, LEDs have evolved very well in terms of cost and performance. What is needed is simply an effective communications campaign by the manufacturers and retailers to help the consumer make a wise buying decision. In an era of 2.5% Treasury bond yields, a payout of 2 years or less on an investment like LED lights is a great personal investment. When people see this, the incandescent issue will fade away for those who can afford these.

    For the poor, we may need to keep incandescents around for a while as its tough for them to shell out $25-40/bulb. Hopefully the costs will keep coming down and this will become less of an issue over time.

    • ComradeRutherford

      “let’s agree that CFLs suck.” No, I don’t agree. I switched to CFLs 10 years ago and I wouldn’t go back to incandescents. I saw a 1/3 reduction in my electric bill. We use 5000˚K CFLs and the light is crisp and sharp (GE’s CLFs are the WORST ever made, BTW, I never buy them). And they are not incredibly expensive, like LEDs are (at this time).
      I’ll gladly switch to LED lamps when they come down in price, but until then I’ll use gladly use CFLS.

      • Steeple

        So what brand of CFLs have you been happy with?

        More like 70% savings with LEDs for what it’s worth

        • ComradeRutherford

          Yeah, the LEDs are fairly good. But so far I have a good supply of spare CFLs and haven’t needed to buy more bulbs – for several years now!

          I see that the 5000˚K lamps I have now say ‘Honeywell’ on them.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I just checked a couple close by. A FEIT and a Maxlight.

          Not brand names I know. But both are over ten years old and get used every day, so I suppose they’re fine.

          I haven’t paid attention to brand names. I can pick them up for fifty cents apiece during our local home improvement store twice a year sale. I have a half dozen spares. Still waiting for my first burn out.

          I do have one CLF that is pretty old and takes a while (30 seconds?) to reach full strength. I may switch it out for one of my spares so that I can justify buying a LED someday….

    • Ivor O’Connor

      How much are LEDs now? And where can you buy them? What are the pluses and minuses to them?
      1) Expensive

      1) Very efficient

      1) How long do they last when left continuously on?
      2) How long do they last when turned off and on continuously?
      3) Can they be used in industrial areas where there is lots of vibration?
      4) Can they be used in refrigerators and ovens or even more extremes?

      • Steeple

        I have used LEDs from Phillips and Cree and have been pleased with both. Home Depot has a good collection, and Lowes is ok. Payout is very quick if these are lights you use regularly.

        I have used them in our kitchen and hall areas where we had incandescent spots on a lot and where they generated a lot of heat. So we save on less energy consumption, and we spend less in the summer months to remove that heat load via A/C.

        Haven’t had them long enough to voich for the expected life, but we are happy otherwise. Haven’t tried them in the more challenging environments that you mention, so I can’t help there.

      • ComradeRutherford

        I mentioned elsewhere in this thread: Mythbusters did a test of all bulb formats (that were available at that time) where they switched the bulbs on and off every two seconds 24 hours a day for two months. The LED lights were the ONLY ones that lasted that long.
        And because they are solid-state, they are the most resistant to vibration.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I don’t see your Myth Busters link. Looking for it on line I found this…

          “It’s a myth that frequent cycling (turning lights and on
          off) greatly reduces CFL life. When CFLs fail, it’s generally because they were cheap and poorly made, not because they were turned on and off too much. In Consumer Reports’ rigorous testing, after 3000 hours with frequent on-off cycling, most of their CFL’s are still going strong, and the Energy Star bulbs are lasting longer than the non-ES bulbs.”

          Switching on every two seconds for two months would mean 259,200 on/off cycles (using 30 day months).

          Most bulbs would get cycled, what, twice a day?

          129,600 days. 355 years. Perhaps a bit of overkill?

          Got data for how many on/off cycles the CFLs lasted?

          • ComradeRutherford

            The Discovery Channel has made it impossible to search for anything, they only want you to watch whatever they choose to show, and of you want to see something YOU want to see, then you have to wade through hundreds of pages with only 5 bits of data on them. This test was a side item to the main show, the main show was about leaving the lights on when you leave the room. In all cases turning the lights off when leaving the room used less electricity, which led to the question of lamp life length, hence the test I described. They had no data on that test other than what I posted.

      • JamesWimberley

        The lifespan of LEDs is quoted as 25,000 hours here and 50.000 hours here. Basically you will move house before your LED dims to the point where it needs replacing.

        LEDs first reached wide use in car brake lights, a high-vibration environment with frequent switching.

        • Ivor O’Connor

          So LED is better at everything but cost. Maybe even cost over lifespan too. Would I be wrong to replace every light bulb when they burn out with LEDs? One-by-one as they fade away?

          • RobS

            No that wouldn’t be wrong, that is the best strategy. Whether replacing prior to burn out is worth it depends on your electricity rate, the best price you can get on LED’s and hours per day the lights are on. I have replaced the lights that spend the most hours on a day with LED’s prior to burn out, for me any light that was used more then 4 hours a day was worth swapping out prematurely when I crunched the numbers. Lights used less then that are being swapped out as they fail. If LED’s continue to drop in price and power prices continue to climb that cut off will decrease.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You wouldn’t be wrong to replace almost every incandescent light bulb now.

            You might want to use LEDs in enclosed fixtures where CFLs wouldn’t last well. Or for outside lights.

            If you live in a house where bulbs are rarely, if ever broken, use mostly CFLs now. By the time a decent CFL burns out LEDs should be a lot more affordable.

            You might not want to bother with fixtures that get rarely used. Like the closet in a guest bedroom or in a seldom visited attic. Use up your last incandescents in those places.

            I’d suggest taking a look at how you live in your house. Figure out which bulbs burn the most and swap them out first. That’s where the real energy savings is going to be.

            Try a CFL and a LED and see how they work for you. If you’re not happy with the ‘color’ you can put that bulb where you would see it less and try a different temperature.

          • Parkerthon

            I’ve tried all of the LED’s and CFL’s. Not everyone is that sensitive to color spectrum which apparently is your situation. Many people can’t tell the difference or simply don’t care. Let consumers choose. The fact that they can save $100 a yr on the power bill is enough motivation to choose CFL’s and LED’s. You don’t need to force it with government jamming it down peoples throats.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s law.

            We are leaving incandescent bulbs behind.

            Get over it.

          • Parkerthon

            It’s bad law. We’re leaving incandescent bulbs behind without having a complete and affordable replacement. That is my argument. The closest thing on the market to an Incandescent is the Switch LED bulb which is not cheap and expensive to make being liquid cooled and all. Just because you don’t care about seeing accurate color in your home doesn’t mean others don’t. Incandescent bulbs do this for a fraction of the price if you’re willing to pay for the power. And if the agenda is to reduce power consumption by picking low hanging fruit, why not go after major consumers of power which are not homes. It doesn’t ruin my day, but it’s idiotic so I won’t forget about it and I won’t let others spewing misdirecting, false information go unchallenged.

          • Bob_Wallace

            But you are wrong.

            I just gave you numbers which show that a perfectly adequate replacement for 60 watt bulbs exists and that those LEDs pay for themselves in one year with more years of cost savings ahead.

            Incandescent light bulbs are 2600K. The Cree 9.5 watt LED is 2500K.

          • David Clough

            Actually they do make halogen incandescent bulbs that meet the first tier of the law. But if they don’t improve by 2020 they too will be gone. But if any light bulb company wants to save incandescent light bulbs they have time to make more improvements. There is also a company that can still legally make incandescent light bulbs that are not more energy efficient. But they are rough service bulbs, but do last as long as a cfl on average.

          • Bob_Wallace

            A few knuckleheads will buy rough service bulbs, but rough service bulbs will likely not be made for long.

            Most of their use is in businesses and government run transportation systems stuff. LEDs will quickly crowd them out.

            Rough service bulbs have a 10,000 hour burn time. LEDs 2x to 3x longer. Just based on the labor costs of extra bulb changes rough service incandescents will go extinct.

            A few angry old men won’t be a large enough market to keep them in business.

          • David Clough

            I haven’t had a cfl burn out. My first one just wouldn’t come on anymore, but lasted longer than the original package claimed it would. The only other cfl that quit working a resistor popped inside the base of it. It only lasted half as long as the package said it would, but the other bulb that came with it still works great and seems to have lasted longer than the package says. One time while over at a friend’s house he wanted different cfls in his main room light fixture and bought different one. Only time I saw one only last a few seconds then die fast. All that energy into making a cfl that didn’t really save any energy. What a waste.

        • JimBouton

          Actually I packed up all of my old incandescent bulbs in a box. When I eventually leave my house the LEDs will be coming with me.

          • RobS

            I’m hoping by the time I move house that LED’s will be fairly standard and I wont need to do this, however it is always an option. I’m also seriously considering building from scratch a Passivhaus type design for my next home in which case buying custom LED fittings may be simpler and I may leave the LED downlight replacements in my current home.

  • JamesWimberley

    Ignore this trivial nonsense, or fight it? I suggest fight. It ties down the enemy and the case is rock-solid and popular.

    • Ivor O’Connor

      i want the option to buy what i want.

      • Boo Boo

        U DO have the right 2 buy what you want…. You also have the right to remain silent; you should use it more often… Apparently you’ve been abusing your right 2 make a fool of yourself…. LOL

      • ComradeRutherford

        President Obama personally stands at every cash register in the USA to wrestle to the ground everyone that tries to buy incandescent lights. I saw that on Fox ‘News’ so it MUST be true.

      • Ronald Brakels

        I want you to be able to buy what you want. Also, I want my continent to stop catching on fire. Fewer floods would also be nice.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Aren’t more people on your continent wanting to buy air conditioning because things are heating up a bit?

          • Ronald Brakels

            I think we have something like 97% air conditioner penetration in Victoria which is the coldest mainland state, so almost everyone has one. But I guess people would be installing multiple air-conditioners in their homes. I don’t heat in winter unless I have guests but I definitely air condition in summer. My parents do a little spot heating in winter but don’t own an air conditioner. They aren’t in much danger of dying because they live near the ocean which moderates the temperature and they have an “Old Queenslander” which is a house on stumps built to take the heat. Once when they were inland they had to sit in the car and use its air conditioner to prevent death, but that’s pretty normal.

          • RobS

            Unfortunately it’s also a state that uses about 90% brown coal generation. 60% of which comes from Heazlewood power station which at 1.58 tonnes/Mwh CO2 is the filthiest power station in the OECD, it really is a national disgrace. My conscience and my lungs are far healthier for having moved to Tasmania where we have 90% hydroelectric and 10% wind power.

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