Bulb Wars: Fluorescent versus Incandescent
If a California assemblyman gets his way, the Golden State would be the first jurisdiction in the world to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs in favor of replacement technologies, primarily compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs)–although LED light bulbs, which are more energy efficient than fluorescents and lack their color-emission drawbacks, may be similarly priced in the coming years as well.
Clearly whether fluorescents are acceptable substitutes for the traditional bulb is a matter of taste: both James and Megan McArdle hate them, but Glenn Reynolds seems happy enough with his. They’ve seemed to be fine in hotel rooms where I’ve encountered them in recent years.
That digression aside, however, there’s a big difference between Wal-Mart’s decision to promote the CFL bulbs and requiring consumers to buy them. If California and other states want to deal with their energy woes in a sensible way, ensuring customers have to pay the full cost of electricity (rather than holding rates down with utility regulations) and incentivising the purchase of CFLs and LEDs–as utilities have subsidized the conversion of most of America’s traffic signals from incandescent bulbs to LEDs to save energy–would be far better approaches than an outright ban on incandescents.