Despite Congressional Reprieve, The Old Incandescent Light Bulb Is Still Dead

Welcome technological change, or crony capitalism?

As James Joyner noted on Friday, the Republicans scored a minor victory on Friday when the final Fiscal Year 2011 budget bill ended up including a rider that barred the Energy Department from spending money to enforce the regulations on light bulb energy efficiency set to go into effect in January. It turns out, though, that the industry is already on track to phase out the old-style incandescent bulb regardless of what the House GOP might want to do;

Despite all the heated rhetoric and political brinksmanship, the delay hardly matters. The looming possibility of the new standards, signed into law by President Bush in 2007 — and the fact that places like Europe, Australia, Brazil and China have already put similar measures in place or intend to do so — has transformed the industry. A host of more efficient products already line store shelves and poke out of light sockets.

“Bottom line, the standards are moving forward unabated,” said Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has promoted the standards. Calling the delay in enforcement a “speed bump,” he added, “Incandescent light bulbs are not going away due to the standard, they are just getting better. The new ones that meet the standard will use 28 percent less power and look and perform exactly like the old one.”

Many of the alternatives to incandescent bulbs are more expensive. But industry executives, government officials and environmental advocates say they often last longer and save money by reducing electric bills. Traditional incandescent bulbs, which essentially use the same technology as Thomas Edison’s original lights, waste most of their energy by converting it to heat instead of light. That problem is largely remedied in newer technologies like compact fluorescent lights (C.F.L.’s) and light-emitting diodes (L.E.D.’s).

The major problems at the moment, of course, is that most C.F.L. bulbs contain small amounts of mercury and generally cannot be disposed of in the trash the way a normal incandescent bulb can. Popular Mechanics noted some years ago that the amount of mercury in the average CFL is roughly 5 milligrams, which isn’t considered a health risk. Nonetheless, the presence of a potentially deadly element in a normal household product has raised some degree of understandable concern among consumers, and has also been exploited by demagogues who seem to be suggesting that your light bulbs will kill you. The disposal issue is an additional inconvenience, a minor one perhaps but still a change from the way things have been, and when you’re taking about a consumer product that has barely changed in 100 years even small changes can be seen as a big deal. As for LED’s, it doesn’t seem we’re there yet, at least not to the extent that light from an LED bulb provide the same natural lighting effect that traditional bulbs do.

In any event, though, the industry is changing, and it’s not entirely thrilled with the GOP right now:

The rider may have advanced GOP talking points about light bulb “freedom of choice,” but it didn’t win them many friends in the industry, who are more interested in their bottom line than political rhetoric.

Big companies like General Electric, Philips and Osram Sylvania spent big bucks preparing for the standards, and the industry is fuming over the GOP bid to undercut them.

After spending four years and millions of dollars prepping for the new rules, businesses say pulling the plug now could cost them. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association has waged a lobbying campaign for more than a year to persuade the GOP to abandon the effort.

Manufacturers are worried that the rider will undermine companies’ investments and “allow potential bad actors to sell inefficient light bulbs in the United States without any fear of federal enforcement,” said Kyle Pitsor, the trade group’s vice president of government relations.

So, if industry wants these rules, why is the GOP grinding them to a halt? Republicans say they’re pro-choice when it comes to light bulbs.

Conservative groups and tea party favorites in the House, including GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, have accused the government of a heavy-handed attempt to ban incandescent bulbs and limit consumer freedom.

“This wasn’t a light bulb manufacturer to me; this was an issue of the fundamental freedom of the American people and one more area where the federal government was encroaching in a place where it didn’t belong,” said Texas Rep. Michael Burgess, who has backed multiple efforts to block the standards.

It always seemed odd to me that people on the right were investing so much time and energy into what seems to be such a relatively minor issue. Yes, it seems odd that the government decided, seemingly arbitrarily (and under a Republican President), to replace a technology that has worked reliably for 100 years with, as James Joyner put it earlier this year, unproven technology that’s 50 times as expensive. However, in the grand scheme of things, this is hardly the largest intrusion on individual liberty perpetrated by Congress in recent years, many of which the self-styled champions of liberty on the right have been strangely silent about. Why the outrage over this, for example, and not a President who  asserts for himself to detain people without trial for an unlimited period of time, or the right to listen in on the private conversations of American citizens who happen to be calling unapproved countries, or to kill American citizens? Every restriction on individual liberty should be objected to, but some are far more important than others, and getting outraged over a light bulb ban while being silent in face of all the rest strikes me as a case of misplaced priorities.

Kevin Drum raises another concern about this issue that I haven’t really seen anyone, left or right, bring up before;

I confess that the unanimous support for these standards from the lighting industry gives me pause. Industries only support laws that will improve their profitability in one way or another, so I assume that this law does exactly that. This is, obviously, not inherently good for consumers.

The American light bulb industry lobbied strongly in favor of these new standards in 2007, and some have suggested that one reason for their support was the fact that it would give them an advantage over incandescent light bulb manufacturers overseas who would have more difficulty retro-fitting their manufacturing facilities to comply with the new regulations. There’s also the fact, noted above, that other nations had already adopted similar standards, so it would obviously be easier for them if one of the largest markets on the planet was on board as well.  Drum is right to be suspicious of the fact that the industry was so eager to see these regulations adopted, because it smacks of the same kind of crony capitalism we usually see when industry and government are in bed together.

Nonetheless, despite the temporary reprieve granted by the budget bill, it seems fairly clear that the incandescent bulb is on its way out. If the technology is there to replace it, that’s great. If this is all the result of yet another corrupt deal between business and government, then I would suggest we’ve all been taken in yet again.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Environment, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rob in CT says:

    As I understand it, this works like CAFE standards with cars. The government sets an efficiency rating. How a manufacturer attains it doesn’t matter. If the bulb is efficient enough, it’s ok. If not, no.

    I’m perfectly willing to believe that the big industry players are in favor of this b/c they think they can make more money this way. I’m reserving my outrage at this time, however, for various reasons.

    My experience with CFLs has been so-so. Early on I had some die on me (though at least 2 of those died in outside fixtures, which was user error on my part) and I did break one, which was annoying. I don’t mind that they take a little while to warm up and put out full light. I don’t mind saving on my electric bill either.




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  2. rodney dill says:

    One of the problems has been rating light bulbs on power usage (watts) instead of light produced (lumens). If a 60 watt bulb is made efficient enough to produce the light that a 100 watt used to almost all the problems go away. The CFL’s use even less wattage for the light produced.
    I currently use a combination and will continued to switch to CFL’s especially as 3-way CFL’s become cheaper.




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  3. reid says:

    Clearly, the people on the right pushing this issue see it as an easy political win. Everyone understands light bulbs, and here’s another chance to get people thinking “big government is taking away my light bulbs, the outrage!” That’s a little harder to do with indefinite detentions and other gray issues. You know this, don’t act shocked at their cheap pandering.




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  4. Yes, it seems odd that the government decided, seemingly arbitrarily (and under a Republican President), to replace a technology that has worked reliably for 100 years with, as James Joyner put it earlier this year, unproven technology that’s 50 times as expensive

    You repeat the TCO fail, don’t you?

    I mean, you fail your readers by not distinguishing between initial costs and total costs, but … you don’t look real bright either.




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  5. @john personna:

    And I think its fair to say most people don’t think “Total Cost of Ownership” when they are standing in the aisle at Home Depot. seeking to purchase what is, in the end, a minor consumer item.




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  6. I have never understood the highly negative reaction to CFLs. Like Rodney, I have been using a combination and have been moving towards CFLs because they use less energy (and put off less heat) which is good for my electric bill.

    And the mercury thing, which is often used as an argument about how horrible the things are by some in the conservative media (usually in a ridiculing way), is amusing in the sense that the same people seem not to worthy about other items that shouldn’t be tossed in the trash, like any manner of old electronics and their batteries. Put it another way: I have heard people make the argument that one shouldn’t use CFLs because of the mercury but the same people don’t argue about using other items that cannot be easily disposed of (because they really aren’t worried about the mercury problem, but instead want to make fun of something they see as a “liberal” product).




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  7. @Doug Mataconis:

    And I think its fair to say most people don’t think “Total Cost of Ownership” when they are standing in the aisle at Home Depot. seeking to purchase what is, in the end, a minor consumer item.

    On the one hand, this is true: people see the cost of the old bulbs v. the new ones and understandably think the old ones are superior.

    On the other, if people start to understand the the new bulbs use less energy, and therefore save consumers money over time (and contribute to improving our general energy consumption issues nationwide) then, perhaps, they will have a different reaction whilst comparing items at Home Depot.




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  8. Herb says:

    If this is all the result of yet another corrupt deal between business and government, then I would suggest we’ve all been taken in yet again.

    Speculation based on Drum’s strange “profitability = not inherently good for consumers” math. A profitable lightbulb manufacturer is inherently good for consumers, insofar as those consumers want to keep consuming lightbulbs.

    Also, wanting to profit off technological innovation isn’t suspect. That’s a solid business plan, no government capture or crony capitalism required. To me, if the standards were lowered that would signal capture, and if one company benefited over another, that would be crony capitalism. As it is, we have higher standards for everyone. The cui bono question isn’t so easy to answer.




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  9. Ron Beasley says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: It’s also ironic that the conservatives who complain about the mercury in CFLs raise holy hell about any attempt to control emissions from coal fired power plants which is where most of the environmental mercury comes from.




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  10. Peter says:

    One problem with CFL’s is that most of them cannot be used with dimmer switches. Dimmable ones are available, but they are harder to find and cost more.

    LED’s are still very expensive, but with some luck their prices should decline over time.




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  11. Hey Norm says:

    Take America back…to the 19th century…vote Republican.




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  12. JKB says:

    Well, I’ve certainly not seen the CFLs last longer. Quite the opposite, although I do admit I’ve had better luck since I started avoiding GE bulbs. Plus they don’t fail completely, they degrade overtime causing eyestrain until you realize you aren’t getting the light you think you are.

    As for savings, run the numbers. It isn’t what they promote. Incandescents can be turned on and off so their actual on time is much less than you think. CFLs fail very quickly if they are cycled and they aren’t instant on so you have to turn them on and leave them on for long periods to get decent use, which erodes their reduced energy usage. I turn CFLs on at dark and leave them on until I’m sure I won’t need them again.

    And, the CFLs have a flicker that impact some people as well as emit a high frequency EM. Take one of those no contact circuit testers and hold it near a CFL, but much further than whe you are testing an outlet, it goes off like you’ve just laid it on a wire, and even for a short period after you turn the light off.

    CFLs have their uses but so do incandescents. Think of all the Easy Bake ovens that will have to be replaced with microwaves. Plus, in winter, incadescents used in nearby reading lamps provide a heat island effect permitting comfort while the whole house can be kept at a lower temperature. As for special disposal, let’s see, 2 gallons of gas for the round trip, discounted 50% for other errands down in that part of town, nope, the CFLs aren’t going to save anything.

    Oh, and surely most here have seen that when there is widespread energy usage reductions, the local utility gets a rate hike to keep up their revenues to service the debt. It might save the non-existent global warming, but it won’t save money out of the household budget in the long run.




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  13. Franklin says:

    Engine oil is also hard to dispose of, so we should ban all non-electric cars. Sorry, but the disposal argument is poor. As I’ve noted before, mercury will simply evaporate if given enough time. (Granted, it’s going to take a few days for 5mg to evaporate, depending on the temperature and surface area). Not to mention, the CFLs cause less mercury to be belched from coal plants.

    And what’s with repeating James’ hyperbole that the newer tech costs 50x as much as if that was fact? First off, that’s an exaggeration by about an order of magnitude. But yes, as you noted, if you factor in the lifetime, CFLs are actually much cheaper.

    Finally, as for whether we should have a choice? Sure, and I agree that crony capitalism sucks and this smacks of it. But that ship has sailed; Republicans are just trying to get uninformed votes, as usual.




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  14. mattb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    And I think its fair to say most people don’t think “Total Cost of Ownership” when they are standing in the aisle at Home Depot. seeking to purchase what is, in the end, a minor consumer item.

    Not to be cynical, but this seems to be the argument that can be made about anything (including major consumer items)… In particular voting.




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  15. Rob in CT says:

    @Peter:

    They also kinda suck. I recently tried one (bought it at Lowes). It dimms, but has a significantly reduced range of dim-to-bright vs. the halogen floodlamps I have in most of my dimmable fixtures (even at the lowest setting, it puts off a lot of light). That’s not a big deal, though. The light was also a nasty color (I thought I bought soft white, but maybe I bought “natural” light, which is harsher) and the bulb made a very annoying noise. Gah.

    I like most of the CFLs I have. That dimmable one, however, doesn’t work for me.




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  16. mattb says:

    @Herb:

    Drum’s strange “profitability = not inherently good for consumers” math.

    BTW, isn't it strange that libertarians and conservatives are rallying around this particular argument after arguing for so long as to the positive results of the "invisible hand."




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  17. Rob in CT says:

    As for the disposal issue: it’s real, but the solution isn’t to say no to CFLs. It’s to make it easier to properly dispose of CFLs. But that’s true of all manner of things like “household hazardous waste” and the like.




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  18. Hey Norm says:

    I love all you guys complaining about the quality of the light, can’t dim, etc. etc.
    I wonder what you would have said in the 1800’s when incandescents were first introduced.
    I guess you would have prefered to stick with gas lanterns.
    Too f’ing funny.
    It’s a miracle this country ever moves forward at all.




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  19. If CFL’s really are superior to incandescent bulbs, then why not let the market decide that instead of a government mandate?




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  20. Jib says:

    I have been using CFLs for around 15 years. Some of my original purchases are still running strong but the new ones are crap. They dont last nearly as long as they say, in fact, I am not sure some of them last as long as incandescent’s. The color is bad, they are noisy. The dimmer problem has halted my conversion to total CFL but with dimmers, I am using much less power than the rated wattage for my lights and the bulbs last much longer.

    The forced conversion is clearly crony capitalism. Several tea party people I know are are obsessed about this. They bring it up all the time. They see it as a big govt / EPA initiative. When I tell them, dont blame the EPA, blame GE, they are the ones who lobbied REPUBLICANS for this, they get that ‘deer in the head light’ look in their eyes, as if they are hearing something for the first time, shake their heads and then go on blaming the EPA.

    I admit baiting TPers is how I get through boring party’s but it is cruel and not much sport any more. Way too easy. I am resolving to stop it for the new year.




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  21. Hey Norm says:

    Because Doug…your free market is a delusional fantasy. If all the market is offering is X then all people are going to buy is X. The market does not drive manufacturers….manufacturers manipulate the market. SUV’s, McMansions, VHS, bicycle helmets, the list is f’ing long. The fact that you are fundamentally incapable of grasping this tells everything that needs to be known about you.




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  22. @Hey Norm:

    You. Do. Not. Understand.

    The industry was making CFLs and other alternatives to traditional light bulbs long before the 2007 bill was passed. Why not let that continue, let people decide for themselves if the TCO and energy efficiency advantages of the new bulbs compared to what they are used to was reason enough to switch?

    Just because people make choices you don’t like doesn’t mean those choices are wrong.




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  23. mantis says:

    Yes, it seems odd that the government decided, seemingly arbitrarily (and under a Republican President), to replace a technology that has worked reliably for 100 years with, as James Joyner put it earlier this year, unproven technology that’s 50 times as expensive.

    It’s not arbitrary, the technology isn’t unproven, and doesn’t cost 50 times as much. But hey, you got one detail right. It is technology!

    If CFL’s really are superior to incandescent bulbs, then why not let the market decide that instead of a government mandate?

    The mandate is for efficiency, not types of bulbs. More efficient is superior. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandates that general purpose bulbs that produce 310–2600 lumens of light must be 30% more energy efficient by 2012-2014. It does not mandate the production, or a halt in production, of any type of bulb.




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  24. JKB says:

    @Hey Norm:

    I don’t know, why don’t they light a World’s Fair or say a sports’ stadium with just CFLs as a demonstration of their superiority. Say the Super Bowl, 100 % CFL in the field lights, the camera lights, the hallways and locker rooms lights . That would be a good way to let people see for themselves the superiority of the new technology. Why, as an example to all of us, does the White House not replace all their bulbs with CFLS, or the Capital and Congressional office buildings?




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  25. Jib says:

    @Hey Norm:
    Doug is right on this one Norm. I bought my first CFL in the mid-90’s. They have ‘improved’ since then (smaller but lower quality) and got cheaper.

    I am not a fanatic on there use, the goal is to reduce energy and there are many ways to do it. There are places where it makes a lot of sense to use CFL’s, in some cases even the very expensive ones from the 90’s but there are lots of places in houses where it just does not matter. The lights are not on enough to make any difference.

    Lightbulbs, a strange place to draw a political battle line.




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  26. michael reynolds says:

    I’ve been hearing for 5 years that newer, better CFL bulbs are just as good as incandescent. No, they aren’t. Pretending doesn’t make it so. The light they cast is ugly and depressing. There’s no softness or warmth in them. They depress me. They flicker and fade and come on slowly and don’t last any longer than regular bulbs. They are worthless outside.

    I really, really hate them. And I’m not going to start seeing the emperor’s new clothes. I’ll buy black market if I need to.




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  27. @Doug Mataconis:

    If CFL’s really are superior to incandescent bulbs, then why not let the market decide that instead of a government mandate?

    Well, do you think humans are rational agents, or do you just not care?




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  28. @michael reynolds:

    You made me dig out the box. RTH energy saver. 13w, 60w equiv.

    They blink on in my kitchen faster than I can see, and provide a nice color through the frosted glass fixtures.




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  29. BTW, the Yugo was a bad car, but that did not make cars bad.




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  30. JKB says:

    @Hey Norm:
    It’s true manufacturers manipulate the market by providing options that people want as opposed to the state manipulated choices. State mandates CAFE, people move to SUVs on truck frames to have the room and power to move a family of 4 with state mandated car seats in comfort.

    Turns out if you build it, it being a large, well appointed suburban home, they will come. Not so much for tiny urban apartments.

    Not sure where the bicycle helmet comes it, it is government mandated for children and in some places for adults. Why there is no innovation to make one that didn’t look dorky, I don’t know.

    And as for VHS, sometimes, better is good enough at a reasonable price even though best is slightly improved. Especially, when better cannot be fitted and played in the best recorders due to size requiring a sizable loss in on-hand media for a marginal improvement.




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  31. Herb says:

    @mattb: Strange? A little…but understandable. Suspicions run deep in this country, and many times are completely founded. I just think a lot of conservatives and libertarians have decided to oppose this policy because the government is involved. Of course, they can’t admit that it’s a pure knee-jerk “government bad” response, so they have to come up with all these other reasons, even bad ones, to justify their conclusion. Grasping at straws, as they say.

    Here’s Reason on the subject:

    If legislators, regulators, environmentalists, and even the industry all agree this mandate is a good idea, why would consumers object? Maybe because the whole premise of the policy is that their choices do not matter because they are too stupid to know their own interests.

    Considering that the policy provides a whole new menu of choices, while eliminating only a few obsolete ones (after all, for thousands of years, the only lighting “choice” was flame), the concern about “choice” is, well, misplaced. If they feel like someone is calling them stupid, they can take comfort in the fact that the earth does not revolve around an individual’s feelings.

    The aesthetic concerns I find most trivial, but also more valid. Clearly there is a demand for energy efficient bulbs with the qualities of less-energy efficient bulbs. No one wants a dimmable bulb because it hogs more energy. They want it because it makes the home theater more theaterish. That demand, I suspect, will be met. These new standards may hasten that along.




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  32. mantis says:

    Why, as an example to all of us, does the White House not replace all their bulbs with CFLS, or the Capital and Congressional office buildings?

    Pelosi did that in the House, installing 13,000 CFLs around the House campus. When Republicans took the House last year, they reversed it.




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  33. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:
    I’ll give RTH a try. The various Lowes and Home Depot thus far have made me want to hang myself. But maybe RTH is better.




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  34. JKB says:

    @mantis:

    And did Pelosi use CFLs exclusively in her office or just impose the CFLs on the working class in the building?




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  35. Barb Hartwell says:

    Republicans are always complaining about government getting in the way of businesses and then they go getting in the way of progress. Were they concerned when homes went from fuse boxes to circuit-breakers. They are only saying this to be combative as usual. Only this time it did not work not when G.E. tells them to shut up




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  36. Jib says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Actually, the are a lot of CFLs that are much better than incandescent’s. But recently we have been flooded with cheap crap. And you buy them in big packs, get them home and they are terrible.

    This is the the ‘cheap crap from china’ syndrome that is a problem with lots of goods. I would rather pay more for something that will last but you can not find the good stuff in any big box store anymore. Having to rely on consumer reports to tell what light bulb to buy seems….counter productive.

    But that is the new world of globalization! It is so much more efficient! Building cheap crap that does not work in factories burning dirty coal, and shipping it around the world burning diesel just to reduce costs by 20%. Yeah way more efficient. Just keep repeating that, dont think about it, we cant go back, there is nothing we can do, we certainly can not be expected to build stuff ourselves, it is the future! DEAL WITH IT!




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  37. @john personna:

    I would rather let individuals decide for themselves on issues like this than hand it over to the state, working hand-in-hand with industry lobbyists.




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  38. @Doug Mataconis:

    And yet we are tied together, both by the electric grid and the air we breathe.

    Say sufficient of my neighbors choose incandescent, and as a result a new coal or nuclear power plant is built to serve us ..

    well, sadly I get you. If more nukes or coal burners result from those random purchases, you’d call that emergent order, or revealed preferences.

    which is why I asked about “rational consumers” above. This is tied to a view of human nature. If you think people make commonly make short term decisions that are not in their long term interest, you’ll look to “nudge” (either gently or harder).




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  39. (I don’t suppose incandescent supporters would also support an incandescent tax, or higher electricity base rate, to pay for those externalities.)




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  40. @Doug Mataconis:

    I would rather let individuals decide for themselves on issues like this than hand it over to the state, working hand-in-hand with industry lobbyists.

    Of course, that requires full information for a rational choice, yes? As such, the issue should be discussed in terms not just of the cost of the bulb at Home Depot, but for the total cost, as has been suggested, yes?




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  41. Herb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “I would rather let individuals decide “

    That’s fine in most cases, but in this case, who is the “individual?” What are they “deciding?”

    If the individual is the consumer, he will still be able to choose from a variety of bulbs with varying qualities for a variety of purposes. If anything, the consumer has even more choices to decide from.

    But if the individual is the manufacturer, then why can’t they decide to move to these new standards? Why can’t the government (like many governments across the globe) decide to codify them?




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  42. Herb,

    Manufacturers doing this voluntarily is one thing. Manufacturers using the power of government to force all manufacturers to do so is quite another IMO.

    As I said in the post, this is hardly the biggest issue in my book but that doesn’t mean I agree with it.




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  43. Jib says:

    My rant aside, if you are serious about the environment, you cant just blindly substitute CFL for light bulbs. If you replace light bulbs in your house that are rarely turned on with Made in China CFLs then the carbon created in manufacturing and shipping the CFL’s will be higher than what you save with the more efficient bulbs. Even in higher use areas, if the new bulb is lower quality and does not last long enough, you will use more carbon with CFL’s than incandescent’s.

    You also need to know where your electricity is coming from. Hydro power, natural gas, coal, they all have significantly different carbon footprints for the same power generation. If you are on coal, it is almost always better to switch, hydro, maybe never better, natural gas is case by case.

    CFLs are heavier so shipping burns more fuel, they take more resources to manufacturer,not just carbon. Good ones are worth it but you have to be careful.




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  44. @Steven L. Taylor:

    And would not a manufacturer selling CFLs in competition with “:regular” bulbs (as has been the case for many years, actually) want to educate consumers about this issue?




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  45. (Everyone choosing incandescent might also be a proper Tragedy of the Commons.)




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  46. @Doug Mataconis:

    And would not a manufacturer selling CFLs in competition with “:regular” bulbs (as has been the case for many years, actually) want to educate consumers about this issue?

    So why didn’t it work with you? Are you not a rational agent in a free market?




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  47. Herb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “Manufacturers using the power of government to force all manufacturers to do so is quite another IMO. “

    Well, I’m not so sure that’s even the case here, but even if it was…in something like this, for pure interoperability reasons it behooves all parties to get on the same page. After all, manufacturing standards don’t just benefit the light bulb makers, but also the makers of light fixtures.




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  48. Oh john, you really don’t know what kind of light bulbs I own do you?




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  49. PD Shaw says:

    @Rob in CT: I’ve heard similar complaints about the CFL dimmables, particularly if you have more than one light on the switch. Each light tends to have a different color and flicker rate; the range becomes worse.

    I installed some of the dimmable switches in this house partly to save electricity, in rooms where often we only need about half of the light output. I would guess that depending on personal usage, there may be no electricity savings in them.




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  50. Hey Norm says:

    “…the industry was making CFLs and other alternatives to traditional light bulbs…”

    I’m amazed you do not understand how the market actually works. You’re an idiot.




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  51. @Hey Norm:

    I understand quite well how the market works. What exactly is your problem with two different products, in this case CFLs and traditional light bulbs, competing against each other for consumer dollars?

    I’ll ignore your insult, but you should note it does violate our comment policy




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  52. @Doug Mataconis:

    Oh john, you really don’t know what kind of light bulbs I own do you?

    Is this another late-breaking comment in which you wash your hands of the original claim?

    lolz




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  53. Hey Norm says:

    @ Doug…
    The 3-D spiral CFL was invented in the late 70’s by GE in response to the OPEC oil crisis. Although the design met its goals, and it would have cost GE about $25M to produce the lamps so the project was shelved. So a manufacturer intentionally held something off the market…that prevents the market from making a choice. See how that works?
    BP is, or was at one point, the largest holder of patents for solar panel technology. Why do you think that is? Because they can then control the market.
    Your fantasies about the free-market and the invisible hand are childish. They dissolve the minute they come in contact with the real world.
    I’ll respect the commenting rules…but whenever you see my “name”…you can assume that’s what I’m thinking about you and your delusional theories.




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  54. WR says:

    @JKB: “And did Pelosi use CFLs exclusively in her office or just impose the CFLs on the working class in the building? ”

    And in the category of “most ludicrous straw man,” ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!




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  55. Rob in CT says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Hmm. That makes some sense, given that the dimmer switch in my kitchen controls 6 (I thihk, maybe 8) bulbs.




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  56. Rob in CT says:

    Pelosi did that in the House, installing 13,000 CFLs around the House campus. When Republicans took the House last year, they reversed it.

    Seriously?




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  57. @john personna:

    Please show me where I said I have never used or purchased CFLs




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  58. mantis says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Seriously?

    Yes, indeed. It was a larger initiative that included more than just light bulbs, but the Republicans defunded its implementation.

    Rep. Blumenauer says the Republicans’ reversal will cost the taxpayers $50 million. But they’re serious about deficits, donchaknow.




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  59. @Doug Mataconis:

    In your article you dropped that line I didn’t like:

    Yes, it seems odd that the government decided, seemingly arbitrarily (and under a Republican President), to replace a technology that has worked reliably for 100 years with, as James Joyner put it earlier this year, unproven technology that’s 50 times as expensive

    Then later, when pressed on TCO and negative externalities you said:

    Oh john, you really don’t know what kind of light bulbs I own do you?

    So what is this, a “let people make bad decisions” rant by a closet CFL user?




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  60. Lomax says:

    This may not relate, but I would love to have one of those old 16 mm projectors that the schools used to use. Are they still available? Where could I get one? DVD’s and VHS just doesn’t compare.




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  61. Cal Ulmann says:

    One additional problem is the customer is only used to buying light bulbs by Watts on incandescent bulbs. The government is causing confusion by raising the standards on incandescent bulbs.

    I have found that CFLs will stop working if in an electric switch with poor wiring as quickly as incandescent bulbs but at many more times the price.




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  62. Anon says:

    There seems to be an misunderstanding here. CFLs and LEDs are not the only choices. The major companies have already lined up incandescent alternatives (that are more efficient). They are more expensive than the old incandescent technology, but are not outrageously so.




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