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ban on incandescent light bulbs

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
My brother told me that the US will soon ban incandescent light bulbs.  Anybody know if there is any truth to that?

I know that australia did something like that.


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Joined: Aug 20, 2009
Posts: 3
Location: North of France
Yes it's true!

It's a world panic on the light bulb.

In France since the 1 september 2009 i can't find bulbs 100w and more and it's gonna decrease every year.
The end is for 2013.

Have a look for me: www.euractiv.com/en/energy-efficiency/eu-phase-energy-guzzling-light-bulbs/article-

And have a look for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phase-out_of_incandescent_light_bulbs

A good question is why?
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Celcius wrote:A good question is why?


Most people who support such a ban look at the energy used to power incandescent lighbulbs, and all the greenhouse gasses and radioactive waste released by the coal that powers them, and figure the public needs a strong incentive to overcome its inertia and quickly adopt more-efficient ways of making light.

It is possible that some support stems from the geopolitics of tungsten production.  I understand most of the tungsten we use comes from China, and a given lumen-hour of light consumes much less tungsten if it comes from a CFL; practically none if it comes from an electroluminescent or LED source.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
                        


Joined: Apr 15, 2009
Posts: 19
Location: Canada. Ont
Incandescent's have their uses as inefficient heaters in things like chicken coops.  My biggest concern is the increase in the already ubiquitous mercury oxides.  With huge amounts of CFLs out there, and the frequency with which they break, its adding even more mercury to an already over saturated environment in developed/developing nations.
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
There are smaller CFLs on the market now, and LEDs show promise in the long term.

I agree there are some real benefits of the heat in some instances.  I don't think incandescent lights are as safe as they might be on that point, though.

In the long run, you might look into resettable fuses as a safer mode of electric heating.  They pass current until they reach about 125 C, then become non-conductive until they cool down again: it's a heating element and thermostat in one.  As long as you stay within the maximum specified voltage, they will run the same on any sort of power supply: AC, DC, doesn't matter.  Applying a heat sink with some thermal grease will increase the power output of the device; the better the heat sink, the more power it will draw.  It would probably be worthwhile to keep it under 30V.

They are in lots of scrap devices, including PC power supplies and the motors for automotive accessories (windows, seat adjustment, etc.).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resettable_fuse

Speaking of automotive scrap, the defroster on a car's rear window has the same behavior, even though it works in an entirely different way.  It might be easier to set up a heater system based on an automotive ceramic defroster element, in some circumstances.  Again, it would work with a wide range of power supplies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceramic_materials#Positive_thermal_coefficient

Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 977
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
I hope they plan to allow medical exceptions to the all-flourescents rule.  A lot of people with lupus have the same problem from flourescent lights that they have from the sun -- the light can cause lupus flares.  I have a sister-in-law with lupus, and my youngest daughter has lupus, so this isn't academic for me.  I need to know if I'd better stock up on a life-time supply of incandescent bulbs for my daughter's sake -- I could (and do) still have flourescents in some parts of the house, but the areas where she spends most of her time need incandescents.

Kathleen
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
They're ridiculously over-priced at the moment, but you might look into LED bulbs for the long run.

It may also help to use lights with a plastic enclosure.  Many of the compact fluorescent bulbs I see at the store lately are intended for vanity mirrors or other open fixtures: these have a polycarbonate dome around them, and polycarbonate is a strong absorber of UV.  There may also be a safe way to cover a standard bulb with a transparent UV absorber.
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 977
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
I probably will go with LED lights for the long run, as eventually I hope to have all solar power -- a small system, with possibly a micro-wind generator as part of the set-up.  I can live without just about every other luxury that electricity provides, but lights are hard to replace.

Kathleen
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
I probably will go with LED lights for the long run, as eventually I hope to have all solar power -- a small system, with possibly a micro-wind generator as part of the set-up. I can live without just about every other luxury that electricity provides, but lights are hard to replace.

Kathleen


That makes me happy!

A large proportion of the expense of LED fixtures is the awkward interface between the large voltage and current available, through fixtures designed to handle lots of heat and frequent bulb changes, and the tiny power and space demands of a typical LED.  I get the impression that LED fixtures for a 12V system are a lot better-designed and more-reasonably priced.
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 977
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
That's good to hear!  One advantage of going solar, I guess!

Kathleen
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    9
yeah i've been using a lot of the small LED's lately...i have several places where i can't find cfl's small enough to fit into..and the LED's really use less power than the cfls..and are much safer..

we use our entertainment center shelf lights and our china cabinet shelf lights as nightlights..(husband had head injury and has to have nightlights or he'll break more bones than he does)...i use the little LED's for those and they are on a remote control..turn them on when we go to bed and shut them off when we get up..it is really nice..they use next to no elec..we also found led nightlights that will stick into a socket and go on and off automatically.

i have to use LED's in my chandeliers also as the smaller cfls just wont fit..(they were designed for night light sized bulbs)..

we stopped using nearly all incandescents when we found cold start flourescents for outside..but honestly..they really don't work in our really cold weather sometimes..in the winter


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
                            


Joined: Nov 04, 2009
Posts: 1
if you have a swift stream or creek running nearby. You can set up a GM  one wire alternator/ with water wheel, Two 12 volt car batteries in series. Led lights would light entire home. Also operate many other things that run on 12 Volts. Including computer. Get the highest amp alternator you can find. You can also hook into a breaker  box and run 12 volt bulbs in existing sockets. Turn off lights not in use to conserve battery life. I have used this system many times. It takes a 5 hp engine to operate. Used it when I couldnt afford a generator. Never had a swift stream nearby. :> Would be using it now but stiil no stream.  With a swift flowing stream, a good paddle system and proper gearing this can be done. You can also build a windmill using an alternator to charge batteries. If you live in a windy area. I have neither option at the present time. So I am building a rocket mass heater to help do my part to help save our earth. I know its a small thing. But I am working at other things in the near future. Just my 2 cents this evening.
I would like to say hello to everyone. I am a newbie to your site. Hope I can learn a lot more to help save our earth.
bunkie weir


Joined: Nov 05, 2009
Posts: 109
Location: eastern washington
    
    1
here's some people working on improving the incadescent bulb. why not improve on what we have rather than come up with something new? i have had nothing but trouble with the CFLs. one broke while i was trying to get it out of its plastic packaging (i think the packaging cost more than the bulb itself!). another only lasted 4 months then died.

Breakthrough: Regular Light Bulb Made Super-Efficient with Laser

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/06/regular-incandescent-lightbulb-super-efficient-laser-rochester.php
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
I'm sorry to hear you've had bad experiences.  I do not use incandescent bulbs at all, haven't for five years or so.  Two CFL bulbs have failed on me, one after two weeks of use, the other after six years; I hope you have better luck in the future.

bunkie wrote:why not improve on what we have rather than come up with something new?


There are fundamental problems with the way an incandescent bulb works, similar to the fundamental problems with industrial agriculture.  The basic concept leads inexorably to senseless waste.

That is an interesting article on the Rochester effort to zap patterns onto the filament material, but tungsten is fairly mobile when white-hot, and I would expect nanostructures to smooth out (or just evaporate) after a relatively short period of operation.  Any departure from a smooth surface would also be very likely to increase the rate of creep (creep is flow in solids near, but below, their melting point), and cause the filament to break sooner.  Professor Guo is fighting against some fundamental physics, on several fronts, but I wish him well in his efforts.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
So ... first, there is the whole mercury issue:  under the right conditions, the mercury toxicity may be offset by the mercury toxicity that comes with the excess energy.  I would really like to learn more about that - especially since I suspect there are holes in that argument.

Next, there is the quality of light.  I have to wonder about light spectrums and about the ballast flicker.  It is clear (at least to me) that a mediocre incandescent has higher light quality than a mediocre fluorescent.  There are higher quality for each, but I know of several people that feel literally sick around fluorescent.  I met one woman that brings incandescent bulbs with her when she travels and then replaces the bulbs in the hotel rooms.

Quality of light is something that the LED space seems to be coming up short on too.  But things are moving so fast in that field, maybe it isn't an issue any more?

I'm reminded of "As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial" by Derrick Jensen (a creepy cartoon book that you can read in about 40 minutes - keep out of the hands of the youngsters because they might take some things too literally (which may be the intent of the author?)):  the book starts off with these corporate guys wanting to get rich based on eco nuts.  So they come out with the fluorescent light bulb and say something like "save the earth through excessive consumerism" .  And you can just smell the next phase - once everybody has replaced all of their bulbs, then comes the word "these are more toxic than we thought!  Save the world by throwing those away and buying our incandescent bulbs!" 

I like the idea of moving in a good direction.  But this feels more like moving from one bad to a different flavor of bad. 

If folks currently use a bunch of different kinds of lights, what will the kwh/year improvement be by bringing in the law?  Lessee, maybe three bulbs per house will be replaced?  And maybe they add up to a 4 hours of use per day in the winter and 1 in the summer.  Maybe an average of 2 hours per day over the year?  365*2 = 730.  60 watt incandescent replaced with a 17 watt fluorescent - 43 watts of savings.  31 kwh.

Further, we may have saved 31kwh with this law - but I wonder how much more energy it takes to make a fluorescent light bulb than an incandescent.

What if instead of this law, we encouraged folks to dry their clothes with a clothes rack.  3.3 kwh per load.  So if you line dry ten loads per year, that would be better than than this law. 

I went a whole year drying my clothes strictly by line drying in a place that got 60 inches of annual rainfall. 

Or, how about research on multi family households.  I recently read that six people in one house uses about twice as much energy as one person in one house.  That seems rather massive. 

So rather than subsidizing fluorescent light bulbs, maybe we should subsidize folks that have a lighter footprint.  Or maybe research how to better support that path.



paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Here is some excellent coverage of this issue:  http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/lighting.html

Some really basic stuff that I think a lot folks are simply not aware of:

Install a skylight.

Use a motion sensor for outside lighting.

Use a motion sensor for interior lighting.

Use the lowest-wattage bulbs for lights that are always on (e.g., stairways).

Replace fluorescent magnetic ballasts with electronic ones.

Use LED holiday lights.

But even better is this page:  http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/

About halfway down are tips on how to REALLY save energy.  Switching to fluorescent bulbs is number 8.  Why are we spending so much time on number 8 when the first three seem to be getting so little attention in comparison.



Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
paul wheaton wrote:
Use LED holiday lights.


Yes!

And not just for holidays.

paul wheaton wrote:
About halfway down are tips on how to REALLY save energy. Switching to fluorescent bulbs is number 8. Why are we spending so much time on number 8 when the first three seem to be getting so little attention in comparison.


I totally agree!

I'm absolutely in favor of pragmatic and targeted conservation, rather than consumerism re-branded as conservation.

I'm neutral on the law.  I do think it will do good even before it is enforced, because manufacturing of incandescent bulbs will slow in anticipation of a shrinking market for them.  And to clarify, I'm pretty sure it's all on the manufacturing & retail side of things, with no direct limits on consumers: incandescent bulbs will be about as illegal as hemp shirts currently are, i.e. you can only buy imported ones.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
So I'm in montana now .... and I saw the local power company newsletter ....  and I caught a glimpse of an article with a graph showing what gives the best ROI for energy savings and the number one thing was fluorescent light bulbs.  Without reading the article, my thought was "that's only because the fluorescent light bulbs are currently so heavily subsidized by our taxes - how about a level playing field here?"


Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
paul wheaton wrote:
Without reading the article, my thought was "that's only because the fluorescent light bulbs are currently so heavily subsidized by our taxes - how about a level playing field here?"


I'd have to see the numbers before I could agree with you.

My rough understanding of manufacturing technology would suggest that a CFL bulb would cost slightly more to manufacture, and (as mentioned above) have a slightly lower content of strategic minerals.

As far as light produced over the device's lifetime vs. embodied energy, I think a CFL would be at least as good as an incandescent, especially if the world has taken to using sparse and dilute tungsten ores.

The subsidies probably only funciton in the market to overcome switching costs, patent protection, etc.

It would be interesting to see the actual numbers.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    9
when i put a couple strings of led lights on the porch for the holidays i was dismayed when i realized i had still had incandescent light bulbs out there..(didn't realize until i burned my hand on them)..i have changed most of my lights to LED's..but guess i missed a few..like those..man they were HOT !!

will be putting LED's in when i remove the holiday lights..(all my holiday lights are also LED's now..strange wierd glow but lots cheaper to run)
Mark Reaves


Joined: Dec 09, 2009
Posts: 12
The compact florescent bulbs are as bad or worse than incandescent simply from their resource use and mercury. There are mercury free florescent bulbs out there but "oddly" they are more expensive. Most people know CFL bulbs use very little electricity but many don't know that they contain mercury and you are supposed to (and should) dispose of them properly. Due to this, many just chunk them in the trash. If one breaks, they don't know to evacuate the room and ventilate. They may stay in the room cursing at the broken bulb lol. I've noticed my CFL bulbs don't last as long as the few incandescent I still have. They burn out pretty quick. Shortest time to burn out was 3 days from purchase. Worse burnout was when the ballast nearly caught fire and filled the room with smell of burning plastic and wire. Before it burned out, there was a lot of red light all of a sudden.

LED lights SHOULD be the way of the future. They are super efficient and probably use less resources than CFL to make and last practically forever. However since they last practically forever, not much profit in it.

As for a ban on incandescent, I don't know. If there was, people would be encouraged to use CFL instead of LED. I agree using LED Christmas lights would be cool.. then again I do leave some Christmas decorations up all year
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
MarkReaves wrote:I've noticed my CFL bulbs don't last as long as the few incandescent I still have. They burn out pretty quick. Shortest time to burn out was 3 days from purchase.


That hasn't been my experience.

The $0.50 bulbs have a few bad ones, that fail very early, but their median lifetime is still really, really long.

Knowing a little about how the things work, I'm surprised that Hg-free ones work at all, and not surprised that they're more expensive.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    9
i have done nearly everything on the list..i hang most of the clothes, bought front loaders twice now..i'm on my second ones and donated first ones to my son..bought all new energy star appliances, my computers are off when not in use, our ceiling fans are on year around to circulate the air..we have one at each end of the house..don't own AC, have nearly all LED or CFL lights throughtout the house..using more LED's than CFL's all the time as they are better light...you can find in regular screw base LED's now if you really look hard..Walmart carries them in a small flood light..which uses nearly no elec.

i run around behind my husband turning off lights and t v's..he is really bad.

we share heat with our son now with our outside wood furnace..big change..for us.

put in plexi porches in front and back outside of our front and back door..solar gain on front..south..on sunny days..wind protection on back but no solar gain..north.

i could go on but i have found that i'm doing pretty good
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I've had a lot of fluorescent bulbs die on me really quick too.  And when they say the fluorescent light bulbs last ten times longer, I think the caveat is that you have to leave the light on all the time.  But if you leave the light on a lot more in order to go easy on the bulb, doesn't that negate the energy savings?

I guess I would like to see some sort of consumer-reports-like study showing 20 different fluorescent bulbs and 20 different incandescent bulbs.  Let's track the lumens and power used.  Let's find the unsubsidized cost.  Let's put all of the bulbs through three different tests:

1)  leave the lights on 24x7

2)  leave the lights on for an hour, off for an hour - until the bulb burns out

3)  on for a minute, off for a minute - until the bulb burns out

Until then, my thinking is that what they are saying is "fluorescent light bulbs last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs *" and then "* a first class fluorescent is left on continuously for three years and a crappy/cheap incandescent died after four months."

I cannot help but think that a good incandescent bulb can last just as long as a good fluorescent.  Especially under normal use.

Mark Reaves


Joined: Dec 09, 2009
Posts: 12
paul wheaton wrote:
I've had a lot of fluorescent bulbs die on me really quick too.  And when they say the fluorescent light bulbs last ten times longer, I think the caveat is that you have to leave the light on all the time.  But if you leave the light on a lot more in order to go easy on the bulb, doesn't that negate the energy savings?

I guess I would like to see some sort of consumer-reports-like study showing 20 different fluorescent bulbs and 20 different incandescent bulbs.  Let's track the lumens and power used.  Let's find the unsubsidized cost.  Let's put all of the bulbs through three different tests:

1)  leave the lights on 24x7

2)  leave the lights on for an hour, off for an hour - until the bulb burns out

3)  on for a minute, off for a minute - until the bulb burns out

Until then, my thinking is that what they are saying is "fluorescent light bulbs last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs *" and then "* a first class fluorescent is left on continuously for three years and a crappy/cheap incandescent died after four months."

I cannot help but think that a good incandescent bulb can last just as long as a good fluorescent.   Especially under normal use.



Not totally the same thing but MythBusters did a segment on light bulbs.

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gdu4wYu48uw
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgM0N7GD5Ic
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
I don't hesitate to turn lights off.

I rarely buy "premium" anything, especially not at retail prices. Maybe five of the bulbs I use carry the brand of reputable companies; it was six, but five or six years of use and four house moves was too much for one of them.

I've used fluorescent bulbs for most of my adult life. (Okay, I'm only 29...)

I've had more incandescent bulbs fail on me, than fluorescent ones.

Your milage may vary.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I watched your mythbusters links.  I would say that about 3/4 of their analysis was useless.  The lights on and off tests were good - but they needed to know when the lights burned out.

                            


Joined: Dec 12, 2009
Posts: 18
I recleay Swich to LED's They have come a long ways! I got  a 64 bulb all 1 watt My Plants grow faster stronger then ever! I use the LEDS
                            


Joined: Dec 12, 2009
Posts: 18
I just switch to LEDS because I became more worried about my lights I did use!

If u use LEDS 1 watt bulbs are best to use or higher! Im useing a home made one I build for less then 30.0 It puts out about aloy of lum's  and Im only useing about 64 1 watts.

First off I cut my Elect Bill by 1/2. I use my light most during the winter months. But I can say I dont have to worrie about despoal of the bubls! And belive me there no place around that can safly despo of them! By swiching I figer Im saving 3 to 6 bubls a year

I was told the LEDS Lose alot after 6 months of use! I can safly say I have been using min for 9 month and have not had 1 problem! My Herbs are Grow great! SO much so I will be swich to all LEDS


But here my problem!!!
How or wheer can i despose of these light bubbs!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
carryion, wherabouts are you?  That can make a difference in how to dispose of spent bulbs.  We are talking about fluorescent bulbs, right?

Are you saying that LED's put out less light after six months?  That's the first I heard that.

My understanding that the downside of LED stuff (outside of the price) is that the spectrum is kinda spotty - so the quality of light sorta messes with you. 

Myself, I use lots of LED lights for night lights.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I ranted a bit in another forum.  I thought I would copy and paste it in here:

Fluorescent bulbs .... such a complicated space ....  I've been phasing them out and going back to incandescent.  There is so much misinformation about them it is unnerving.  And then all of the details about for or against are too much for a forum post. 

I have a friend who is a big fan of fluorescent bulbs and pinching pennies on his electric bill.  He took a long trip to mexico and I stayed at his place for four months.  In seven years, his lowest power bill was about $60 for one month.  During my stay, I averaged $15 per month and 90% of my light bulb use was incandescent. 

I remember seeing something from the power company that said something about how your best energy ROI was fluorescent light bulbs.  That was entirely based on buying them at a price that is MASSIVELY subsidized by the government - so they conveniently cut out how much we paid for them via taxes.  Further, the lifespan comparison is based entirely on use that favors the fluorescent:  leaving it on for long periods of time. 

I think the gub'mint should heavily subsidize laundry drying racks.  And insulation for hot water tanks and pipes.  And contraptions that help your fridge work more efficiently.  Since chest style fridges are ten times more efficent, maybe we should see those introduced commerially with big subsidies?  Or maybe subsidies for folks in the country to build root cellars.  All of these things will have a far greater impact than fluorescent light bulbs. 

Or here is an even better idea:  how about if we just don't subsidize any of it?  How about if fools pay 10 times more for power by being wasteful?

As for the mercury toxicity thing:  the argument is that the mercury pollution in the bulb is offset by the mercury that is not polluted when the bulb uses less power.  So I guess the power generation has lots of mercury pollution?  If that is true, which I suspect it isn't, then, WOW, shouldn't those places stop polluting so much?  Because it seems to be that running your clothes dryer is gonna cause a freakish amount of mercury pollution!

I gotta stop - I'm getting too worked up over this.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_fluorescent_lamp#Mercury_emissions

So, 8000 hours of running an incandescent bulb leads to about 5.8 mg of mercury pollution.

The same number of hours of running a fluorescent bulb leads to 1.8 mg of mercury pollution (including throwing away the bulb).

Let's suppose we're running this light for 4 hours a day, 7 days a week.  1456 hours in a year.  5.5 years.

The average household does seven to eight loads of laundry per week.  The average dryer uses 4400 watts and is usually run for about an hour.  7.5 loads * 52 weeks * 4.4kwh * 5.5 years = 9438kwh. 

So if a 60 watt bulb (8000 hours * 60 watts = 480kwh) generates 5.8mg of mercury pollution, then then dryer produces 114.0mg of mercury pollution.

Even if you are burning six lights for an average of four hours a day, then that totals 34.8. 

So, it seems to me that if we wanna talk about mercury pollution, there are two important points:

1)  If the government is getting involved in regulating stuff, and there is such a high level of mercury in fluorescent light bulbs that there has to be special disposal of them, and yet the amount of mercury being generated by the power plants is SO high that an incandescent leads to more mercury pollution than an incandescent, then isn't the REAL problem that the power generation stuff is causing way too much pollution?  So we would have a cleaner world by banning the fluorescent bulbs, embracing the incandescent bulbs and reducing (eliminating?) energy generation pollution.

2)  If the government is getting involved in regulating stuff for the sake of saving energy or making things less toxic, I think banning electric clothes dryers makes a LOT more sense.  And what I really mean to say is that rather than banning clothes dryers or incandescent bulbs (I smell a lobbyist for some fluorescent light bulb manufacturers back there somewhere), howzabout if we just simply educate folks on how they can save money by using a drying rack.   

And now, as long as we're talking about the government banning stuff in an effort to save energy or pollute less, I'm gonna add a few to this list:

3)  Here's another biggie, if the mission is to save energy, especially in the long run, let's talk about the stuff that REALLY saves energy.  The #1 thing to save energy:  don't have babies.  I know that is mighty harsh, but we need to stop skipping over the facts because folks cringe at reality.  Since it is #1, can we at least put it at the top of every list so that it stands out?  Consider all of the electricity that one person consumes in their life.  And then consider the pittance of energy that is saved by regulating light bulbs.  1%?  Well, the savings are 100% if that person never existed.  Yes, yes, yes, people are still gonna have babies.  But I think if we're gonna talk about trying to save energy, let's keep track of the facts.  (note that I say a "1%" savings.  11% of electricity usage is for lighting, but I think most people are already switching, en masse, to fluorescent, so the last little bit of savings that might come from legally banning incandescent would be small)

4)  Six people in a house use twice as much energy than 1 person in the same house.  In other words, the amount of energy per person drops by a factor of three.  So, banning incandescent light bulbs might bring a 1% energy savings.  People sharing a home brings a 67% energy savings.  Yet there are government laws (some areas limit the number of unrelated people allowed to live in a house) and disincentives (cost of power per kwh goes up after a certain level of usage) to home sharing.

5)  Heating is 31% of energy use.  You would think the government would give me a million bucks to conduct a massive collection of tests on wofati building techniques and to expand the designs on the rocket mass heater.  Or maybe they could tell the world about some really obvious stuff that I've already covered in this forum about personal space heaters and hot pads.  And with the average home cooling expense of 12%, a wofati home would use  43% less energy.  Hmmmm .....  43% compared to 1%. 

I have so much more to say on this whole subject I could fill a book.  Or two. 

The important thing here is that I think that banning incandescent light bulbs is just silly.  I suspect that the real driving force behind it has something to do with lobbyists and marketing folks from light bulb manufacturers.  I think a lot of very eco minded folks have read a lot of stuff that has been prepared for years and years by these companies and they now have stars in their eyes about the whole thing.  So their heart is in the right place, and the base data they are operating from is all true, **AND** they need just a little bit more information.



tel jetson
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Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3109
Location: woodland, washington
    
  58
one problem with your solutions, Paul, is that they require actual lifestyle changes.  the current boom in the green marketplace is, as far as I can tell, largely due to the fact that all folks have to do is buy something different.  if I switch to line-drying my laundry, that actually inconveniences me.  but if I buy an energy star dryer, I save energy without the extra wait time.  never mind that I may not be saving a significant amount of energy.  that is how many of us are taught to exist in the world: we exercise our freedom by making choices as consumers.

but you're talking about government and subsidies.  well, clothes drying racks don't cost much.  electric dryers do.  lots of folks buying expensive things grows economies, lots of folks choosing free alternatives cripples economies.  the government is not in the habit of intentionally encouraging economic contraction.  banning incandescent light bulbs gives the illusion of environmental progress without decreasing consumption.

you mentioned Derrick Jensen earlier in the thread.  he wrote a good article for Orion a while back that I think should resonate with a lot of folks on the forum.  for anyone familiar with Jensen's work, it won't be anything new.  a brief snippet:

The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it.


and, while this isn't really central to the discussion, I can think of ways to save a lot more energy than not having babies.  not having babies might be a lot easier than what I have in mind, but I think putting babies at the top of the list is fairly restricting.


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paul wheaton
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Joined: Apr 01, 2005
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
9500kwh is over a thousand dollars. 

So maybe the note could be "save a thousand dollars on your electric bill by drying with a clothes rack"

Of course, as the cost of energy goes up, the rack might start to look more attractive.

Folks using fluorescent bulbs doesn't bother me.  As long as I can keep using incandescent.  And having the government ban incandescents - that really bothers me.

tel jetson
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Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3109
Location: woodland, washington
    
  58
from the wikipedia:

Federal legislation

Many of these state efforts became moot when the federal government enacted the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 in December 2007, requiring all general-purpose light bulbs that produce 310–2600 lumens of light [19] be 30% more energy efficient (similar to current halogen lamps) than current incandescent bulbs by 2012 to 2014. The efficiency standards will start with 100-watt bulbs in January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in January 2014.

Light bulbs outside of this range are exempt from the restrictions (historically, less than 40 Watts or more than 150 Watts). Also exempt are several classes of specialty lights, including appliance lamps, "rough service" bulbs, 3-way, colored lamps, and plant lights.

By 2020, a second tier of restrictions would become effective; which requires all general-purpose bulbs to produce at least 45 lumens per watt (similar to current CFLs). Exempt from the Act are reflector "flood", 3-way, candelabra, colored, and other specialty bulbs.[20]


so, looks like you've got a couple years to amass your stockpile.  or light your house with colored bulbs...

anybody heard of sulfur plasma lamps?  no mercury involved.  a microwave gun heats up molecular sulfur which then emits enormous amounts of light.  the light is full spectrum, but slightly green-ish.  there was talk in the 90s and then again a few years ago of using them in greenhouses, but I think there may have been reliability issues with the moving parts.  should anybody iron out the problems with these things, they're alleged to be exactly a lot more efficient than other light sources.  the prototypes were only available in 1000 watts and higher, so probably not so great for lighting a tiny house, but other applications are obvious.
Erica Wisner
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Joined: Feb 10, 2009
Posts: 773
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
    
  92
paul wheaton wrote:
Further, we may have saved 31kwh with this law - but I wonder how much more energy it takes to make a fluorescent light bulb than an incandescent.

What if instead of this law, we encouraged folks to dry their clothes with a clothes rack.  3.3 kwh per load.  So if you line dry ten loads per year, that would be better than than this law. 

Or, how about research on multi family households.  I recently read that six people in one house uses about twice as much energy as one person in one house.  That seems rather massive. 

So rather than subsidizing fluorescent light bulbs, maybe we should subsidize folks that have a lighter footprint.  Or maybe research how to better support that path.



But requiring people to install clothes drying racks would violate "nuisance covenants" at a lot of gated communities, making us all look like po' folks.

And rewarding people for co-housing would just encourage lawbreakers to live with unrelated adults.  (Our town still has zoning regulations on the books that prohibit more than 3 unrelated adults in a single-family residential zone... never mind that the zones themselves reinforce the need to commute between home and work)

We can't encourage those things, it would be breaking the rules!  We'd have to change the laws....
so let's just make laws about weird new lightbulbs that people don't want to buy, instead.  If they won't buy them with subsidies and coupons, they're obviously not that much of an improvement.

CFLs haven't been around long enough yet to get banned as a nuisance, or restricted by the ADA for causing migraines, etc.  Admittedly, they do use a lot less energy.

But LED's use even less.

If we get regulated into a CFL standard now, will people refuse to buy LED lights on the grounds that they're not enough of an improvement?

Whether or not the light bulb itself is a good idea, I mistrust the law requiring it. 
I mistrust 'mandatory' anything these days.

If we could afford health insurance, we'd have it, and we'd be having kids.  But I don't care to have it mandated that I buy it, just to prop up the economy at my expense. 

I for one would favor a 'stable' economy; I don't think spending ourselves into another boom is worth the pain of the next bust.

I think our current economic 'growth' theory is based on a lot of observations of the logistics of fossil fuels, and the math doesn't hold up to sunlight.  The last economist who argued that land (or sunlight) is the basis of productivity was how long ago?

Instead, we have a lot of equations that highlight the importance of clever exploitation of changing conditions, which is what you get when a new food source suddenly blooms; or when a population learns to exploit a previously unusable resource.

And now that the resource bloom is pinching down, we are getting these mysterious self-reinforcing spirals upward and downward...
Does that mean we're being illogical?  The market is too volatile?  The computers are trading too fast?
Or does it mean the variables in our theories aren't calibrated right for actual natural laws, or the population isn't the right size for the available resources?

hmm...
     rambling;
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paul wheaton
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Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Erica Wisner wrote:
But requiring people to install clothes drying racks would violate "nuisance covenants" at a lot of gated communities, making us all look like po' folks.


Require?  Sheesh, I don't wanna require anybody to do anything.  I'm advocating less requiring.  These goofballs are about to outlaw my lightbulbs!

I said "encourage".  I suspect that most folks have no idea how much power a dryer consumes.  But they are well educated on how much power a fluorescent light bulb saves. 

so let's just make laws about weird new lightbulbs that people don't want to buy, instead.


Oh!  I get it now!  Sarcasm!  I really should read all of a post before I start commenting. 

If we could afford health insurance, we'd have it, and we'd be having kids.  But I don't care to have it mandated that I buy it, just to prop up the economy at my expense.


I have a lot to say in this space, but this thread is about light bulbs. 




Joel Hollingsworth
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Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
tel wrote:anybody heard of sulfur plasma lamps?  no mercury involved. 


Yes, I have.

They're currently only worthwhile for extremely high-power applications: the one I first heard about was lighting an entire skyscraper with one: a light tube or fiber optics would run to each room or workstation.

I think miniaturization of microwave emitters for the cell phone industry, plus recent cost reductions in aerogel and transparent ceramics, might make smaller ones cost-effective, but even still they'd be outside the lumen range covered by the legislation.

Paul: did you notice the three-way bulb exemption? That seems like a loophole most people could exploit.
tel jetson
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Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3109
Location: woodland, washington
    
  58
I would love to have a sulfur lamp and light tube for a greenhouse.  1000 watts is a lot, but not for the amount of useful (in photosynthetic and visible spectra) light I'm led to believe these things put out.  would make winter growing a snap.

I've been in the habit of buying the CFLs over the last fifteen years or so.  but I've now got a collection of dead bulbs waiting to go to a hazardous materials collection event.  I'm pretty curious what happens to them after I drop them off.  is mercury collected and reused or just contained?  are the ballasts recycled?  glass?  haven't bought CFLs recently, and don't plan to buy more, but I've still got a few in reserve.

I'm also a big fan of the pickle light.  run lectricity through a pickle.  the light is pretty yellow-ish and not very bright, and it smells bad, and doesn't last very long, but it is a pickle light.

as far as the incandescent ban, look on the bright (sorry) side: opens up a new and potentially lucrative black market.
paul wheaton
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Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
tel wrote:
I'm also a big fan of the pickle light.  run lectricity through a pickle.  the light is pretty yellow-ish and not very bright, and it smells bad, and doesn't last very long, but it is a pickle light.


Adding pickle lights to my list of stuff to not ban .... 

Um - how much power does one connect to a pickle and how bright does it get?


 
 
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