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City-fied Self-Sufficiency

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Posts Tagged ‘light bulbs’

The quietly approaching deadline

Some unscientific surveys have shown that some 2/3 of people are completely unaware that, after December 31 of this year, they will no longer be able to purchase 100-watt incandescent light bulbs.

Over the next two years, incandescents 40 watts and greater will be phased out, as well.

Philips Lighting – Understanding the new Federal Energy Efficiency Legislation

Energy Savers – New Lighting Standards Begin in 2012 (notice how the “inefficient traditional” bulbs “give way” to “choices”… the choices have been available for some time now, it’s just that now, they are removing one… but they have to make it sound good, like they are helping you)

This is supposedly being done in the interest of saving energy and, by extension, the environment.  However, the bulbs we are supposed to replace incandescents with simply cannot compete with the modern Edison bulb.

One option, compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, gives off cold light that tires my eyes and doesn’t light as effectively as incandescents.  They do not last nearly as long as they say they do (I never had one last anywhere near as long as an incandescent).  In addition, proper disposal of them is not easy, as they contain small amounts of mercury, a highly toxic metal.  Throwing them in the trash is actually a felony, if I recall correctly, so you are supposed to find a place to recycle them.  And if one breaks in your house, the mercury immediately escapes as a toxic vapor.  You are supposed to immediately evacuate the house for 15 minutes, and then somehow clean the mercury out of the house.  I’m not sure how you are supposed to do this, when you can’t see where it landed.

Another option is LED bulbs.  These are very expensive, and are being touted as the safe alternative to mercury-laden CFLs.  How interesting to learn, then, that they contain lead, nickel, arsenic, copper, and other ingredients that can be toxic — enough that, though they are not currently required to have special disposal instructions, researchers suggest similar handling to CFLs.  Now, we certainly do have small LEDs all around us in our everyday lives, but replacing incandescent light bulbs with them would increase that amount exponentially.  And these LEDs get so warm, they have to have heat dissipators, whether finned heat sinks or fans, to keep them cool enough not to fail.  Does the heat of the bulb cause toxins to be given off into the air?  I don’t know.

Another consideration is this:

These bulbs are supposed to save energy.  However, I seriously doubt they actually do.  Oh, I’m sure they do on the consumer side.  But how much energy does it take to make these things?  Incandescents are easy to make.  I’ll bet it takes way more energy to make a 100-watt equivalent CFL or LED light bulb.  These things are way more complex.  The LED ones even have circuit boards in them.  Are we really saving energy?  I don’t think so.  This isn’t about saving energy or the planet.  It’s about governmental control over the minutia of our lives.

My mother has macular degeneration.  She needs strong light.  We don’t have 100s all over the house, but we do have them in a few key places.  I have been buying boxes and boxes of 100s while I still can.

This is part of my collection of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs. The bulbs I have stored should be enough to last for many, many years. By the time the last one burns out, hopefully, this nation will have returned to sanity. The Sunbeams are 130-volt bulbs. They will burn slightly less brightly on the typical American 120-volt house service, but can take more energy fluctuation without burning out than 120-volt bulbs, which are in the majority.

I have been buying my incandescents at the Dollar Tree.  A box of four is $1, which is the best price by far that I have found!  I’ll be making a couple more trips there to buy 100s before the end of the year.  After that, I’ll be stocking up on 75s and 60s before they meet their phaseout date.

Correction, sort of… well, not really – okay, I found an old article.  You’ll be able to buy incandescent bulbs, but they’ll have to be “energy efficient” ones.  As far as I know, the odd-wattage bulbs I see in the store now are still the same bulbs, just reduced in wattage slightly.  Not enough to comply with the new standards.  So, in order to meet continuing demand for incandescent light,  but still comply with the new laws, researchers have been trying to increase the efficiency of incandescent bulbs.  Okay… that’s fine if it works out, but as far as I can tell, there’s not a lot out there on the subject.  This article is well over two years old:  Incandescent Bulbs Return to the Cutting Edge.

Right now, for the sake of our health, our eyes, and my mom’s limited vision, I’m sticking with what I know already.  If all these new bulbs were so great, they wouldn’t have to force us to use them.

UPDATE 12-1-11:

Mercury from CFLs causing an “acute” situation in Sweden, state of emergency declared:

Rugged 100W bulbs will still be available after 2011… for a while, anyway:

By 2020, the efficiency standards tighten the noose around all current incandescents, as well as their “energy efficient incandescent” replacements, and even the “efficient halogen” replacements that have recently come out. What is banned and when:
(This comes up at the middle of the page for a chart. Once you look at the chart and its notes, scroll up and read the whole, long, eye-opening, infuriating page. Make sure you have time and snacks. You will be enlightened… I really didn’t intend that pun, but there it is.)