8:2:12 Why I've Stockpiled Light Bulbs

Several years ago, I read that swapping out incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) earns immediate savings in monthly electric bills. Or an annual savings that would easily pay for more expensive CFLs.

I tossed out the incandescents and replaced them in fairly short order with CFLs. I waited for my next monthly electric bill.

If anything, it was the same or more.

I consoled myself by reasoning our water heater, our range, our refrigerator far outweighed, in kilowatt consumption, light bulbs.

I also took some consolation from understanding CFLs last far longer than incandescents.

That premise went when the first CFL expired--too soon.

[package of 16 light bulbs]

I then asked Portland's resident guru on light bulbs, the proprietor of Sunlan on North Mississippi Avenue about incandescents vis a vis CFLs. Yes, she said, CFLs outlast incandescents by far, but only if both burn continuously.

But we don't use light bulbs like that. We turn them off and on. Sunlan's light guru said switching off and on is much harder on CFLs than incandescents. So, as a rule of thumb, CFLs won't significantly outlast incandescents, and by obvious deduction, are not cheaper.

What my experience confirms.

So I was understandably taken aback to learn our Federal Government was going ahead with a plan to outlaw incandescent light bulbs in favor of CFLs.

I started thinking about Federal energy policies. In this country, we have a 30-odd-year running joke auto manufacturers meet a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard, but with an SUV-sized loophole. Family cars are exempt trucks!

The 100-watt'ers would be banned December 2011.

Then the 100-watt'ers got a reprieve. Their postponed  "illegal" date became October 2012. Bans on other bulb wattages to follow.

My 100-watt bulb search in January 2012 seemed a lost cause.

The legislative postponement was too last minute for the light bulb factories that had shut down and store buyers who plan ahead.

Then in a local WalMart, I saw something possibly overlooked: several packages of 16 100-watt bulbs for, I believe, a clearance price of $2.35. I bought all of them.

I got home, having spent less than ten bucks, and saw I had 64 100-watt light bulbs and far fewer light fixtures for future deployment.

But it didn't matter. In my house, the incandescent light bulb--Thomas Alva Edison's heroic invention--won't be legislated out of existence any time soon.

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(click to enlarge image)

The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

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