08 April 2007

New lights on the subject?

Civilization may have never evolved in the way that it has if it wasn't for the light bulb. Since this invention, it has spurred an industrial revolution, leading the way for many of the products and policies that we have today. So it would seem odd to be without this invention that we have grown accustomed to, but Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) looks to change the light bulb's image. She has introduced H.R. 1547 to place a minimum output on the amount of lumens per watt a light bulb must produce, similar to the new ruling made by Australia.

One of the technologies to immediately see a benefit in sales is the compact fluorescent light bulb, or CFL. While incandescent light bulbs only used about 5% of their wattage on light, CFL's can use up to 2/3 less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and still maintain the same output of light. Energy Star states that you can have a savings of $30 per CFL installed over a years time.

There is a downside to CFL technology: They contain mercury. This toxic substance can cause health problems if it is ingested or introduced into the bloodstream. The only way the mercury can become dangerous, is if the light bulb is broken. For this reason, CFL's should not be thrown away with the rest of your refuse. It should be taken to a recycling center to be reclaimed and reused.

Another downside to the CFL is the price. A CFL light can run about $4 to $7 for a single bulb. There are other deals out there, but in general they cost more than incandescent bulbs. While the bulbs may cost more, they also last longer. CFL's last 4 to 10 times longer than a standard bulb.

There are some who do not take to the new technology, mainly because of misleading information and myths. An article on the American Thinker website claims that there are no American manufactures of CFL's. A simple Google search clarifies this information for us and shows that there are numerous manufactures here in the United States. The article also refers to the H.R. 1547 bill and how the U.S. wants to "Ban the bulb". The bill actually states that there will be standards to set new minimum lumen per watt ratios on light bulbs. This wording allows incandescent technology as long as it can adhere to the new standards. With its current technology, the incandescent light bulb will not meet these standards.

And while there is mercury in every CFL, the very power plants that supply the power release mercury into the atmosphere with their emissions. So much so that in the overall span of each bulb, an incandescent will actually produce more mercury (from consuming more power and in turn emitting mercury from the power plant) than a CFL will with its power consumption and supplied mercury.

Overall, I believe that the CFL is a wise choice to make if you are looking to save a few dollars on your electricity bill. If you are looking to help the environment, there is still plenty debate on whether there is a significant difference in overall environmental impact. Because of manufacturing differences, power consumption and politics, we may never know our true environmental impact on this earth.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I use CFLs in pretty much all of my sockets. I love them. I don't see why people are afraid to use them!