4 Light Bulb… Snore

I just bought… an incandescent bulb!  Oh wait, weren’t they banned?  The exemption list is long:441z

  • Anything under 40 Watts
  • Anything over 100 Watts
  • Appliance (fridge/stove) bulbs
  • 3-Way bulbs
  • Candelabra bulbs, reflector (“silver end”) bulbs
  • Infrared-specific lamps
  • Rugged (vibration, shatterproof) bulbs
  • Colored lamps, plant lamps, “black lights” and “bug lights”
  • Tube bulbs (T-type) over 10″ long
  • Most types of stage lighting
  • Plus several more…

Not to mention stores are still selling “new old stock.”  One could argue the so-called “incandescent ban” is, in effect, a test of reading comprehension.

Personally, I’ve got nothing against halogen “incandescents”– we can argue about whether they’re still incandescent bulbs, or different enough to be their own category.  Halogens are efficient enough to be exempt from the Energy Independence and Security Act, while also lasting longer than incandescents.  They are also the one argument against one or another of the truly efficient, truly long-lasting bulbs (fluorescents and LEDs).  CFLs and LEDs start off as monochromatic, and become “white” by manipulation of phosphors.  This may or may not leave a satisfying feeling of white by some standards.  Halogens, on the other hand, are about as white as your house ever gets, without the Sun.

Meanwhile, if you find that CFLs and LEDs are plenty white enough (incandescents are actually reddish), those new technologies will save you big in replacements and electric bills.  Not only are they down to a practical (incandescent-beating) net price, but they’ll beat incandescents before their warranty periods are up.  You literally can’t lose.  As for the “mercury threat,” that’s a test too.  The amount of extra coal burned by an incandescent in its (short) life has more mercury than the equivalent fluorescent.  CFLs have mercury contents measured in milligrams; LEDs have none at all.  The trick is to use LEDs, halogens, or your last incandescents in places where CFLs don’t make sense.  Places like closets, bathrooms, or attics where cycling, heat, or cold would make fluorescents die prematurely.

Nothing ever really dies, of course- not even inefficient, dirty, short-lived incandescents.  I’m going to hang onto this purchase, to show my grandkids.  “People once had lights that wasted 97 percent of their electricity!  They were basically heaters with a little light, not lights with a little heat!”

The “incandescent ban” isn’t much of a ban, it turns out.  If you see someone claiming it is, consider it a test of their trustworthiness.  If you see some talking head claiming it’s an ‘intrusion’ or ‘threat to freedom’, consider it a test of their journalistic integrity… or lack thereof.

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