How Many Idiots Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb. Or, how many members of Congress does it take to screw up a light bulb? It occurred to me recently that I haven’t changed a single light bulb in three years or more. And in that three years lighting technology has leapt forward dramatically. So why then would some members of Congress want to torpedo legislation that many of them actually voted for to phase out the incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy efficient lighting? Why would anyone in these tough economic times NOT want to save money on energy costs? Seems like a no brainer to me. But never fear in this age of absolute idiocy in Congress—yes—a move is afoot to save the incandescent light bulb—EVEN THOUGH the major incandescent light bulb manufacturers have said that demand for these energy suckers has dropped dramatically. David Schuellerman, a manager for General Electric Lighting, said demand for standard bulbs has dropped by half over the last five years, according to the Miami Herald.
In December of 2007 the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 passed by both the House and Senate and was signed into law by then President Bush. One of the provisions of the bill was to phase out energy hogging incandescent light bulbs and encourage the use of more energy efficient lighting like CFLs and the more expensive, but even more energy efficient LEDs. Now remember, this legislation passed by both houses of Congress. Fast forward to July, 2011. And wouldn’t you know it. A group of GOP representatives tried to repeal efficiency standards that would go into effect next year—because, according to Florida Congressman Bill Posey, “My constituents overwhelmingly don’t want the government to decide what kind of light bulb they want.’’ Translate, “my constituents don’t mind paying more for energy as long as they have the right to waste it.” (My translation, of course.) Fortunately for all of us the effort to repeal the legislation was blocked. But when you have people like Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Bachman calling the ban an assault on personal choice, as if people wouldn’t choose to save money, well now you see the reason for the title of this post.
When I first switched over to CFLs only a few retailers even sold them. So I knew things had really changed when I saw more CFLs than incandescent bulbs in CVS. I’ve gotten used to one of the annoying things about CFLs. When I turn on the lights in my bathroom the four vanity bulbs over my sink do take a minute or two to completely light up. So, I turn on the light go put on my coffee and come back. One of the concerns of using CFLs is that they contain mercury and need to be disposed of using special procedures. But since I haven’t had one go out I haven’t yet had to dispose of one. LEDs are more expensive than CFLs but can last years and years longer and have no mercury issues. In fact, if you sell a house and have LEDs in any lighting fixtures you can use that as a selling feature since they last up to twenty-five years! Or you say, “bulbs don’t convey”.
Congressman Bill Posey voted to repeal the repeal the energy efficiency standards in the Energy Independence and Security Act even though a lighting manufacturer in his own district, Lighting Science Group’s Chief Executive, Jim Haworth says that the company has grown from 100 to 350 employees in the last year. So here’s a question posed by the NRDC’s Bob Keefe. Does anyone want to go back to iceboxes or the refrigerators of the 1960’s.
I haven’t switched over to LEDs yet only because my CFLs are still lighting my home for a fraction of the cost of an incandescent bulb. So, as my mother used to say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And thankfully even though Congress totally blew it on the debt ceiling, so far they haven’t been able to screw up the Energy Independence and Security Act.
Here’s a great post from one of my favorite blogs, re-nest with questions and answers on lighting.