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.