Efficient Light

Well, it seems the US Congress has decided to make a push for more efficient lighting technologies. For a detailed account, go here, but basically the gist is that by 2020, all lights must be 70% efficient. (There are earlier goals, so read the article.) A normal incandescent light is about 10% efficient, meaning that the other 90% of the energy used basically turns to heat. In contrast compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) already meet the 70% efficiency requirement. Right now compact fluorescents are about two and a half dollars each, compared with fifty cents for an incandescent. Not to mention that the former will also have a life cycle several times as long.

It should seem obvious which would be a good choice. Sure, there are some thins to keep in mind, like light quality. But even this has come a long way. Go to your local Home Depot or similar store and take a look at the selection of compact fluorescents available (they usually have a bunch on display). You can usually find one that comes pretty close to the light a normal incandescent would give off, or whatever suits your tastes.

Of course, there is the issue of mercury, which these lights do contain.  So, you will have to be sure to dispose of them properly.  But what about the environment?  Well, it turns out that because of the coal we burn for power in a lot of places, you end up dumping less mercury into the environment than with an incandescent (go here for more information).

Hopefully I have convinced you to switch.  Hopefully people will not need any sort of legal action to compel them to switch, also.  When legislation like this comes about, there are always people complaining about the government getting too powerful.  Well, I have a few thoughts on this.

First, I am not really sure I have enough faith in the market to say that we should let it solve our environmental issues such as this.  While I think that given time quality CFLs could be made dirt cheap, I’m not sure I’d want to wait.  I think that some action should be taken.

Next, I’m not really too concerned over something like this.  If the government wants to start forcing the quartering of soldiers, then I would say it might be time to start a revolution.  But requiring more efficient lighting?  Give me a break.  Hell, the legislation doesn’t even specify CFLs, so if someone somehow finds a way to improve incandescent lights to be that efficient then great.  I think there is a trend heading in this direction anyway (though as I mentioned I don’t think it will happen fast enough on its own).

OK, I guess I will admit that part of me finds this a little weird, and this brings me to my final thought: perhaps they could have handled this better.  Maybe a tax break of some sort?  They could remove sales tax on CFLs, or at least give people a break for having a certain number of them.  Who knows.

Well, at any rate this will hopefully save people some money and bring a little less harm to the environment.  On another note, LED Christmas lights will probably be cheap directly following Christmas, so be sure to pick some up for next year (or for this year, or any time you might want Christmas lights).

So, be efficient, and good night!