Monthly Archives: September 2009

Good news: U.S. CFL bulb sales falling fast

Sales of compact fluorescent light bulbs in the United States are down 25% from their peak in 2007, according to a story in the New York Times.  Even better, shipments of these dangerous mercury-containing light bulbs are down 49% from 2007.

Compact flourescent light bulbs cannot succeed on their merits.  Government bans of incandescent light bulbs are the main source of damand for CFL bulbs.  In addition, CFL bulbs have relied heavily on give-aways and subsidies.  But even these measures aren’t working:

Despite more than a decade of costly C.F.L. promotions — including giveaways, discounted prices and rebates — the bulbs have failed to capture the hearts (and sockets) of American consumers….[I]n regions where C.F.L. campaigns have been heaviest, 75 percent of screw-based sockets still contain incandescents. Nationally, about 90 percent of residential sockets are still occupied by incandescents, D.O.E. has reported.

Incandescent light bulbs continue to be the first choice of most consumers because they produce better light, they’re cheaper, they don’t contain mercury, and it’s not illegal to throw them in the trash after they stop working.

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Filipinos switching to CFL bulbs: poor hardest hit

The Philippine government and the Asian Development Bank launched a campaign today (Sept. 26) to replace power-hungry incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent lamps,” according to a story at PhilStar.com.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, one 0f the most toxic substances on Earth.  Mercury causes brain damage.  It makes water unsafe to drink.  It makes fish unsafe to eat.  So this effort by the Phillipine government and the Asian Development Bank is seriously misguided.

But it gets worse:

In the first large-scale “Switch to CFL” program in Asia, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and ADB officials exchanged energy-saving CFLs for old-fashioned incandescent bulbs in the homes of 2,000 poor families in Manila’s Tondo district.

Isn’t it bad enough to be poor in Manila without the government confiscating your safe light bulbs and forcing you to use dangerous ones?

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Minnesota faces a huge mercury pollution problem from CFL bulbs

Mercury-laden compact fluorescent light bulbs will overwhelm recycling programs in Minnesota, according to Dave Dempsey at CleanTechnica.com:

A surge in the number of mercury-bearing energy-efficient light bulbs in use in Minnesota is expected to overwhelm recycling programs in the next few years and there’s no plan yet on how to recycle more of them…

The number of recycled compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) available for recycling in the state is expected to rise from 346,000 in 2008 to 2,419.000 in 2011 as federal and state energy efficiency mandates kick in. Minnesota’s 2008 CFL recycling rate was one of the highest among the states at an estimated 37%, and much of the Gopher State has nearby recycling options.

But many of the state’s consumers aren’t aware that CFLs need to be recycled to contain the mercury. While 73.1% of the state’s households use at least one CFL, only 39% of respondents to a survey knew that recycling of the bulbs is required by Minnesota law.

Local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection programs receive the majority of Minnesota’s recycled CFLs, with home improvement and hardware stores taking back the bulk of the rest. Because most of the local HHW programs are largely funded by county taxes, it’s unclear whether or how funding to expand them will be made available.

If the state’s recycling rate doesn’t improve, Minnesotans will soon be throwing over 1,500,000 CFL bulbs in the trash every year.  That’s enough mercury to pollute 1,000,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels every year in each of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes.

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Light bulb disposal expertise is on the rise in Congress

Congress has gone green, according to a story in USA Today.  The House of Representatives has switched to compact fluorescent light bulbs.  Over 4,000 of these light bulbs have been installed in Senate buildings.

So when we say your Senators and Congressmen will know what to do with your burnt out or broken compact fluorescent light bulbs, we’re not kidding.

Go ahead!  Send your light bulbs to Washington.  They’re the experts.  They’ll know what to do with them.

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Manufacturers lie about compact fluorescent light bulbs

The European Union has admitted that compact fluorescent light bulbs aren’t as bright as traditional incandescent light bulbs, and that claims about the amount of light they produce are exaggerated, according to a report in the Telegraph:

Buyers of the main type of energy-saving bulb, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), are told on the packaging that they shine as brightly as an old-fashioned bulb. For example, an 11W CFL is labelled as being the equivalent of a 60W incandescent bulb.

However, the European Commission, which was responsible for the ban, has now conceded that this is “not true” and that such claims by manufacturers are “exaggerated”.

The Sunday Telegraph has conducted its own tests on level of illuminance provided by light bulbs from different manufacturers to see whether their claims stand up to scrutiny.

We found that under normal household conditions, using a single lamp to light a room, an 11W low-energy CFL produced only 58 per cent of the illumination of an “equivalent” 60W bulb – even after a 10-minute “warm-up”.

The whole campaign for switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs seems to be built on a series of lies.  Governments who have believed these lies and banned incandescent light bulbs are making hundreds of millions of people pay for the consequences of their stupidity.

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Euro light bulb ban rage is big news in the United States

NBC Nightly News ran a story last night on opposition to the European Union’s ban of incandescent light bulbs.

Here is a transcript:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: If you’re a fan of old-school lightbulbs – and this is the point where we point out that our parent company G.E. is pretty famous for making them, among other things, dating back to Thomas Edison himself – then you may be pretty unhappy these days with these new energy efficient lightbulbs that are in wider use. As you know, in some cases, they’re now mandatory, and they do not give off the same old glow. Europe has actually been ahead of us in the switchover, and not everyone there is happy about it. Here is NBC’s Dawna Friesen from London.

DAWNA FRIESEN: The traditional lightbulb – invented 130 years ago – it profoundly changed our world, illuminating our lives like never before. But we’ve given up gas guzzlers, learned to reuse and recycle, and soon it will be lights out on the old bulb and on with these: low-energy compact fluorescent lamps, a prospect that has some people incandescent with rage. What do you think of the new bulb?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I hate them. Yeah, okay, I hate them.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: -because you can’t read by them. They’re useless.

FRIESEN: We all know what the old bulbs are like – nice and bright. The biggest complaint about the new ones is the quality of the light just isn’t as nice, and it takes about a minute for these to get as intense as the old ones. Some people think whoever has forced us to use these is a bit of a dimwit. Simon Bencher’s family has been selling lightbulbs in London for 100 years.

SIMON BENCHER: People are concerned about being forced to do anything. I think people would rather be left to their own devices to do their bit for the environment..

FRIESEN: He’s stockpiled hundreds of the old bulbs.

BENCHER: Yesterday, alone, we sold probably close to 1,000.

FRIESEN: And across Europe, people are hoarding the old 100-watt bulbs because the European Union has banned retailers from importing any more. The cost of the new ones, about $14 apiece. “Being green is okay,” says this store manager, “but at some point, you get fed up paying so much.” They do use 80 percent less electricity and last eight to ten years. The British government estimates that if every house in the country used three low-energy lightbulbs, it would save enough power to light the nation’s streets for a year. And so, by 2012, all old bulbs will be outlawed in Europe. There’s already talk of a new agency to police bulb use. And get ready America.: You’re next. The phase out there begins in 2012, plenty of time to rage against the dying of the light. Dawna Friesen, NBC News, London.

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The great compact fluorescent light bulb hoax

Compact fluorescent light bulbs are portrayed as the savior of our planet by environmentalists.  But the European Union’s ban on using incandescent light bulbs will cut Britain’s yearly emissions of carbon dioxide by about 0.64%, according to New Scientist.  Since compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, the ban will also increase mercury pollution and expose Britons to the health risks of exposure to mercury, which is one of the most toxic substances on earth.

If you’re caught smuggling an incandescent light bulb into the European Union, you can be hit with a fine of £5000. If compact fluorescent light bulbs were really so wonderful, you wouldn’t need a government ban on their alternatives.  You wouldn’t need fines to compel people to use them.

Legislation passed by Congress in 2007 is pushing the United States down the same stupid road Europe is now traveling.  Government is telling us what kind of light bulbs we must use, exposing our families to serious health risks and exposing our environment to significant damage, and it’s all based on dubious claims from eco-nuts.

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