Reprieve for Incandescent Light Bulbs

An original Edison light bulb from 1879 from T...

Edison's original incandescent light bulb. Image via Wikipedia

It has been a busy Christmas holiday season. I was finally able to read Saturday’s newspaper today. So I know I have a bit of catching up to do. A couple of articles in the Los Angeles Times caught my eye that I will write about.

On Friday afternoon, the House of Representatives voted to block the elimination of the incandescent light bulb. While not repealing the 2007 energy legislation signed into law by George W. Bush, the current bill blocks enforcement of the incandescent ban. Since this was part of the spending bill that passed to prevent a federal government shutdown, it will certainly be signed by President Obama on Monday.

While this helps prevent the implementation of an ill-conceived law, there is no help for us poor folks in California. In fact, we already outlawed 100-watt incandescent bulbs last January. The golden state will lose its warm-incandescent lights altogether in 2014.

The 2007 law was passed before a viable alternative had been developed. At the time of its passing, the other types of lights available were compact flourescent lamps (CFL), light-emitting diodes (LED), and halogen bulbs. The CFL’s produce an unpleasingly harsh light that cannot be used with a dimmer switch. Plus they have problems with disposal since they contain small amounts of mercury. LED’s, until recently, had a drenched bluish-white glow that was underpowered and undimmable. Newer versions add filters to soften the illumination plus allow dimming. It is the initial cost of $25 that makes it hard to accept; although that cost should be recouped by lower energy use and longer bulb-life. Halogen lamps have never caught fire as an industry standard because they are hard to replace, produce intense heat, and have caused many house fires when the hot bulbs came in contact with flammable items such as curtains. Because of this, you do not see halogen lights used with traditional lamp shades.

The interesting part about the Republican-led House passing this enforcement ban, is that the lighting industry was lobbying against it. We knew the environmental groups would be up-in-arms over this; but light bulb producers such as Philips, Sylvania, and General Electric will lose profit because they can’t force consumers to buy more expensive alternatives. So much for the Republicans being in the pocket of big business. I believe they were looking out for the average citizen and for stopping egregious federal mandates.


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