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