Tag Archives: compact fluorescent light bulb

Dim bulbs: Consequential failure

Here is an editorial from today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

The fate of Americans making conventional incandescent light bulbs shows the “green” future touted as U.S. manufacturing’s salvation is yet another faulty government premise.

Congress effectively outlawed incandescent bulbs as of 2014 (the measure was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008). The Obama administration portrays their leading “green” replacements — spiral-shaped compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which American engineers developed in the 1970s — as a bonanza for U.S. manufacturers.

Yet The Washington Post reports that when General Electric this month closes its last U.S. incandescent bulb factory in Virginia, that plant’s 200 workers won’t go on to make CFLs for GE. No, they’ll simply be jobless. GE can’t compete with Chinese makers of labor-intensive CFLs.

Compact flourescents indeed use less energy than incandescents. But their “green” benefits are as dubious as their benefits for U.S. manufacturers. The mercury they contain makes routine disposal a pain and a broken CFL practically a hazmat incident — hardly eco-friendly characteristics. They’re also vulnerable to temperature extremes and don’t emit light instantaneously.

Producing unintended negative consequences while failing to deliver promised economic and ecological advantages, compact fluorescent bulbs exemplify yet again just how off-target government “green” policies are.

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September 30 is Send Your Light Bulbs To Washington Day!

Christopher Fountain at For What It’s Worth has this idea for disposing of used compact fluorescent light bulbs:

if voters from all over the country sent them to Washington – how about September 30th? – anonymously, we’d shut down the Capitol while hazmat teams ran around like chickens. I’m sending out a link to this suggestion to all my fellow whacko bloggers, in the hope that readers with dead, burned-out CFLs will save them and, after wiping off fingerprints, mail them on the 30th.

Please help spread the word: September 30 is Send Your Light Bulbs To Washington Day!

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Will your insurance pay for compact fluorescent light bulb mercury cleanup?

Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin. The amount of mercury is large enough that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published instructions on how to safely clean up a broken CFL bulb.

Russell Longcore writes at BestArticle.com:

If you break a CFL bulb, you’ll likely find that the proper cleanup could be very costly. And you’ll likely find that there is NO COVERAGE in your property insurance policy. Most policies have environmental cleanup exclusions. Even if your home is damaged by a tornado, hurricane or fire, the broken bulbs could cause you to incur thousands of dollars in environmental cleanup costs that your insurance policy will EXCLUDE.

If you have to clean up after even one broken CFL bulb, the cleanup costs will probably exceed a lifetime of the promised energy savings from using these dangerous contraptions.

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Light bulb socialism around the world

An editorial in the Washington Times describes the reaction of consumers to the European Union’s ban on manufacturing or selling incandescent light bulbs:

Consumers realize the warm glow of a cheap incandescent is superior in every way to the deadly, mercury-filled substitute being foisted upon them. In Finland, Helsingin Sanomat reported that the new ban has not resulted in a surge of sales for the new bulbs that the bureaucrats expected. Instead, 75-watt packages have been flying off the shelves as customers filled their closets, garages and attics with lighting supplies for the long term. Such hoarding has been the rule for more than a year. London’s Daily Mail gave away 25,000 of the 100-watt bulbs as a prize in a January 2009 contest. Der Spiegel reported that German customers left hardware stores with carts jammed with enough incandescent bulbs to last 20 years.

A similar ban on incandescent light bulbs goes into effect on January 1, 2012 in the United States. Maybe there’s still time to end the madness. It worked in New Zealand:

Two years ago, New Zealanders faced an imminent ban. The National Party, at the time in the minority, made overturning the light-bulb scheme a priority in its campaign against the ruling Labor government. The public responded favorably to the party that proclaimed that it “stands for freedom, choice, independence and ambition.” In December 2008, the National Party government overturned the light-bulb ban.

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CFL bulbs can burn down your house

The compact flourescent light bulbs that Washington is forcing you to use could burn down your house, unless you install a new wall switch for each bulb!

So when you read about all the money these bulbs will “save” you, make sure you factor in the cost of replacing all your switches. And don’t forget to factor in the risk of mercury poisoning and the cost of disposing of used bulbs — it’s illegal to throw them in your trash in most places.

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Risky new light bulb packaging rules

A Washington Times editorial highlights the federal government’s new regulations about light bulb packaging:

In the midst of an economic crisis, troubles in Afghanistan and various terrorist threats around the globe, the last thing on the minds of Americans is the light bulb. That didn’t stop the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) earlier this month from releasing 91 pages of regulations that will force manufacturers to revise their packaging and make costly compact fluorescent bulbs appear more appealing to consumers.

Congress ordered these changes in 2007 as part of its decision to force the dim, overpriced, mercury-filled product on a public that so far has refused to embrace it willingly. Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, bureaucratic rules will phase in, and 100-watt versions of Thomas Edison’s venerable invention will be first on the contraband list.

As if the risk from mercury exposure wasn’t bad enough, the FTC’s new labeling regulations pose another safety risk to consumers:

The FTC’s new labels dethrone the watt as the primary measure of a bulb’s effectiveness and replace it with the lumen as a measure of light output… De-emphasis of the watt on the new containers also will make it more likely that consumers could select the wrong bulb for a light fixture, increasing the risk of fire.

Safety, of course, is far from the minds of the feel-good regulators in Congress, who are pushing bulbs typically filled with up to 15 milligrams of mercury, a toxic substance. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, breaking one of these new bulbs can be a costly mistake. “If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass, then it’s time to throw them away. They’re gone for good,” the agency explained.

Send your used compact fluorescent light bulbs to Washington! There’s no better way to tell Washington to butt out. As the Washington Times says:

Congress already has taken over the design of shower heads, flush toilets and washing machines. It’s time to put an end to congressional nannying and repeal government intrusion into household plumbing and appliances.

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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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