America's decades long compact fluorescent light bulb debate continues into 2012, with the introduction of new light bulb standards.
Reduced to their common language, the standards intend to phase out the use of the more inefficient 100w-150w, 75W and 60W incandescent light bulbs over the next three years, replacing them with bulbs that are at least 25% more efficient.
While technically the regulations do not ban the production and sale of incandescent bulbs, for all intent and purposes, the new regulations provide a market incentive for the CFL manufacturers.
A thirty plus history, from conception to manufacturing, provided CFL advocates and critics ample opportunities to express their views.
CFL advocates often focus on the comparative benefits of CFL energy efficiency and long term cost savings. The functional argument starts with the assumption that obtaining light is the primary goal of purchasing light bulbs.
In light bulb speak, light is measured by lumens. A traditional 75 watt incandescent light bulb produces 1170 lumens of light and lasts on average 750 hours.
The very same bulb in its compact fluorescent reincarnation produces 1170 lumens (the same amount of light) using a mere 20-21 watts of electricity. Same light, but it requires up to 75% electricity to generate. Long terms costs are further reduced because the bulbs are advertised to last anywhere from six to eleven times longer than their incandescent counterparts.
Of course, light bulb life, like automobile gasoline mileage, varies according to consumer lighting habits. Both bulb manufacturers and the United States Department of Energy recommend using CFLs in areas needing prolonged light periods.
Cost and aesthetic concerns lead the list of consumer CFL complaints. Most styles of CFLs retail between $1 and $10. Cost factors further diminish taking into account CFL discounts and giveaways available through local utilities, mass market chain stores and other retail and public outlets. Some local giveaways strictly limit the number of bulbs per customer given away.
Lighting fixture and bulb shading options continues to expand, providing consumers with multiple interior design options. With a little ingenuity, any consumer can purchase or create the perfect light shade for their home.
CFL manufacturers also realized that type of light matters. Newer generation CFLs come in cool light, soft light and day light versions, making it easier for consumers to choose different types of lights for different rooms in the house.
Care in the use and disposal of CFLs also needs mention. All CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, sufficient to become a nuisance factor to anyone needing to clean up from one broken bulb.
The problem turns from a nuisance to a hazardous condition, considered in the aggregate. Millions of broken or improperly disposed CFLs constitutes a hazardous condition in any area. It is important for manufacturers and consumers to organize a safe recycling system.
© 2001-2012 Patricia A. Michaels