December 20, 2007, - 1:10 pm

Bush Assists the Greens: Lights Out for Light Bulbs

By Debbie Schlussel
How many politicians does it take to screw up a light bulb?
After all the rightful conservative opposition to the green and global warming crowd, you’d think George W. Bush who claimed to be a “compassionate conservative” would be both conservative and compasssionate on those of us who don’t want to pay more for ugly, substandard enviro-friendly lightbulbs. But you’d be wrong.
He’s making us buy the bad Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs. I hate these bulbs because 1) they’re ugly; 2) the light they give off is dim and substandard to that of traditional, standard light bulbs; and 3) you have to wait a while after you turn on the lights for these bulbs to work.


But, Bush doesn’t care about that or the big government/anti-free market factor. Or that CFL bulbs cost much more. Some conservative. Some compassion. This article was on the front page of Monday’s USA Today, but I couldn’t get to it until now. It details how Bush and Congress are mandating the phase-out of regular light bulbs (and they tried to sneak it into law):

Turn out the lights on traditional incandescent bulbs.
A little-noticed provision of the energy bill, which is expected to become law, phases out the 125-year-old bulb in the next four to 12 years in favor of a new generation of energy-efficient lights that will cost consumers more but return their investment in a few months.
The new devices include current products such as compact fluorescents and halogens, as well as emerging products such as light-emitting diodes and energy-saving incandescent bulbs.
“This will get us in line with the rest of the advanced industrial world in moving toward more efficient lighting,” says Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., chairman of the Senate energy committee and author of the Senate measure requiring the tougher standards.
The energy bill passed the Senate last week and is expected to clear the House this week. President Bush has said he will sign it.
Under the measure, all light bulbs must use 25% to 30% less energy than today’s products by 2012 to 2014. The phase-in will start with 100-watt bulbs in January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in January 2014. By 2020, bulbs must be 70% more efficient.
Compact fluorescent bulbs already meet the 70% efficiency standard. A compact fluorescent costs about $2, vs. about 50 cents for an incandescent. . . .
Other bulbs are emerging. Home Depot (HD) has started selling a $5 Philips halogen that’s 30% more efficient than incandescents. Its advantage: It doesn’t emit the yellowish tints that can characterizes fluorescents, and it can easily be used with a dimmer.
General Electric (GE) says it’ll develop an incandescent that’s 30% stingier than today’s bulbs by 2010. Earl Jones, a GE senior counsel, says it likely will cost more than current bulbs but less than a fluorescent.

Who needs Al Gore, when you have George W. Bush?
If they can develop these bulbs and make them work better, great. But that should be done on the companies’ own initiatives, not the government’s interference and mandate.
Also, if they can magically do this with bulbs on the government’s say so, why can’t they find an alternative to oil and gasoline?
**** UPDATE: Reader Gabe writes:

There are a lot of dim bulbs in congress, and in the White House.
The compact fluorescent bulbs are a pain.
They can’t be used in ovens and refrigerators!
There are no “night light” compacts!
This law is a disaster.
Our Congress is a disaster!

He sees the (non-CFL) light. I second that emotion.
**** UPDATE #2: Reader Darrel says liberals will never use this kind of CFL bulb.

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19 Responses

i agree, next they are going to force us reuse human waste because they outlawed fertizer for your lawn

PNAMARBLE on December 20, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Why stop there? Why not do away with electricity altogether? These idiots won’t be happy until we are living in tents and consuming organic food. Look I know they long for the 60’s, where they were able to smoke pot, not bathe and boink (since this is an acceptable term to use in the news media. SEE DEBBIE’S POST on robot sex) everything that moved. On the other side, some of us enjoy the technological advances made my mankind and like to be a bit more selective. You go right ahead and live be candlelight or is that the reason for the hole in the ozone?

Ford Jones on December 20, 2007 at 1:56 pm

These CFL bulbs contain mercury, so run for your lives if you accidentally break one.

Genius on December 20, 2007 at 2:06 pm

Fortunately, there have been considerable improvements in compact fluorescent lamps. (FYI, they’re called “lamps”. Few people call them “bulbs” anymore. Bulbs are what they plant in Holland, MI for the spring Tulip festival. OK… I’m kinda pulling your leg. The “bulb” refers to the glass outer container of the lamp.)
There are still some noteable shortcomings with compact fluorescent lamps. They have a large harmonic profile; something that causes waste in power systems. Harmonic profiles have been lowered in conventional fluorescent luminaires, but economically speaking, that’s a recent development. In other words, we’ve had low-harmonic ballasts (10% THD) for conventional luminaires around for 10 years or more but only within the last 3-5 have their price equaled the older (20% THD) ballast models. Compact fluorescent lamps have such small ballasts, they continue to present large (20% THD) harmonic loads in order to keep their prices low.
But the biggest headache with compact fluorescents is that their performance STINKS in cold weather. Ya know those outdoor flood lights you use for safety and security in your home? Check out how a compact fluorescent performs in Michigan during the depth of winter! You can get cold-weather fluorescent ballasts, but they’ll cost ya! Maybe by 2012 they’ll have this problem solved.
That leaves us with Halogen lamps which are more expensive and hardly more efficient than incandescent lamps. I’d also add that my personal experience tells me the life expectancy of residential grade halogen lamps is severly exaggerated. A Phillips “Halogena” (TM) lamp hardly lasts longer than a GE clear incandescent.
I’d also add that consumers aren’t STUPID and I really hate this kind of big-brother nanny-state attitude from our government. Compact fluorescents save money. They last longer (thus less hassle changing out lamps all the time). Their color rendition indices are improving. What the heck do we need the government to force them down our throats for?
Anyway, I wonder how President Bush might have treated this if he had a line item veto. The way legislation is anymore, they can make the POTUS swallow a lot of crow when he signs legislation.
I’m hoping that future Congresses will ammend this energy act to allow continued use of incandescent lamps. I honestly don’t think they’ve totally outlived their usefulness. That being said, incandescent lamps are getting fairly archaic for most applications.
And THAT my dear, is a professional opinion.
thereisnosantaclaus LEED AP

There is NO Santa Claus on December 20, 2007 at 2:35 pm

I wonder if this will kill the Philips halogen and the new-technology GE incandescent, both of which are quoted as 30% more efficient than standard bulbs but with better color characteristics. If you were running Philips Lighting or GE Lighting, would you want to invest several billion $ tooling up to make something that will be banned in 2020, when the 70% standard takes effect?
I also wonder what proportion of congressmen are aware that oil, imported or otherwise, is not used to any great extent in electricity generation. on December 20, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Not to mention they are made in China. How many jobs did Bush give away here? How much tech did we sent overseas? How many factories will be closed down?

Pat on December 20, 2007 at 4:14 pm

Hello Debbie. Long time reader and a frequent referrer to LGF. Finally decided to register here. Have a Merry Christmas. Pat

Pat on December 20, 2007 at 4:24 pm

There are two issues here, the bulbs and the law.
On the bulbs, I completely disagree as to the quality issue. For one, I don’t think they’re ugly. Secondly, I find no difference in the light quality for the one’s I just got at Home Depo. Mine turn on 90% instantly, 100% in about a second or two. Third, the ones I have are warranted for a certain number of hours, and you can be sure I’ll hold them to it. Fourth, I read up on the mercury issue, they’re very safe unless you eat one. So bottom line, I expect to save money.
As to the law, I’m not sure what your opposition is. We have laws about mpg for cars, and some laws on efficiency of a/c units, refrigerators, etc. I have no objection to an efficiency requirement of lightbulbs, but some qualms about mandating a particular technology if that’s what the law does. An engineer friend of mine swears LEDs are the future.
No, I don’t like the idea that the motivation behind this is the Goracle’s panacea, but sometimes the left is right for the wrong reasons. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Do what you want, but I’m not going to waste money on less efficient bulbs just to spite Gore. We have an aging power grid, increasing fuel costs, and political problems with nuclear power. I see no harm in mandating more efficient lighting.

melchloboo on December 20, 2007 at 6:10 pm

The CFL’s are going to be problematic for landfills since they contain mercury and the vast majority of U.S. citizens aren’t going to take the extra time and effort to physically take them to hazardous waste dropoff points. That is, IF their communities even have one. So in order to cover that, more government agency interference will have to occur to create more hazardous waste dropoff points for small towns and rural communities. More bureaucracy and increased taxes to pay for them.
Secondly, outdoor lighting for security reasons for private property will be an issue because CFL’s don’t work well in extreme cold climates.
Remember folks, this is the same government that managed to get freon banned for what turned out to be bogus reasons and quiet discussions are underway to ban freon’s replacement due to alledged hazards it causes.
The global warming nonsense has GOT to stop! Too bad there’s no Presidential candidate on either side with the “C.A. Jones” to stop it.

Carl on December 20, 2007 at 10:43 pm

I have a few fixture locations in my house that the incandescents burn out very frequently, and the fluor’s are a dream come true for me…..they freekin last forever!
I actually like the spirally shape – very Mies! And I can bear waiting the minute or so for full velocity on the lamp, a worthwhile trade off for not having to frequently replace burned out filament bulbs…..
A welcome paradigm shift.

jokermtb on December 20, 2007 at 10:56 pm

I’m sure there will be a thriving black market in Mexican or Chinese-made incandescent bulbs. Of course, you’ll have to pay a premium to get them. This simply creates lots of opportunities for criminal and terrorist gangs to make money in smuggling.

sonomaca on December 21, 2007 at 12:55 am

Yes, CFLs no longer take an inordinate amount of time to start. I have first hand experience with trying to use them outdoors. The big halogen type CFL replacement models do NOT fit properly in the sockets of outdoor flood units.
Quite frankly once LEDs come into their own and come down in price, CFLs will be a non-issue. LEDs are so much more efficient than CFLs that nobody will even buy them anymore at that point. I know I won’t.

SultericDrums on December 21, 2007 at 9:07 am

” … If they can develop these bulbs and make them work better, great. But that should be done on the companies’ own initiatives, not the government’s interference and mandate. …”
but, fwiw,
i switched to this type of lighting years ago,
(as soon as they came out with chandelier bases for the candelabra bulbs,)
(not easy to find, but they ARE available, and have been for several years, and are very easy to get in Brooklyn )
the electricity bills are ‘much less’
especially if there are some lights that are always kept on, even counting the additional expense of the bulbs
[1] check the Kelvin number of the bulb:
5000K gives a harsh ugly bright cold white light
(they both cost the same)
[2] if you have light fixtures or sconces where the bulb is not visible,
then you can use bulbs that provide 100 -150 watts of light, for only 20 – 25 watts of billable electricity, and not even be aware of what type of bulb it is
( i have used the 150 watt equivalents in my Sukkah in the pouring rain, without any problems)
[3] unless the bulb manufacturer specifically says that the bulb was designed for it, DON’T use it in areas that have “Dimmer’ variability controls, as it can cause a fire
if you have home chandeliers with 8 bulbs or more, and more than 4 sconces,
and keep some lights on all night, and all on for most of the evening
try replacing them and compare costs over 3 months,
you may be happily surprised

exdemexlib on December 21, 2007 at 9:25 am

No dimmer? I love my dimmers. Are there any of the new efficient bulbs that are allowed to be used with dimmer switches and not burn the house down?

adamboysmom on December 21, 2007 at 9:35 am

Tried LED’s…nice harsh blue cast. No thanks. Maybe later when the Kelvin temp is closer to daylight.
Have been using CFL’s for a while….now that they have the color temp right (“adamsboysmom” is right about the Kelvin rating being imporant, but wrong about the temp rating itself…a 5000 degree Kelvin light will tend to warm hue, over 6000 tends to blue….stick to 5500 to 5800, the sun’s photo temp…e.g. “daylight”), plus some base & lamp sizes that will fit ordinary old fixtures, they’re not bad, all considered and cost less to operate….but cost a lot more to purchase. Haven’t managed to compare the savings versus cost yet.
With several bastid bulbs to change here I am lazy first, economic second. BTW, I am old enough to remember when light bulbs were “free” by exchange at Edison offices….e.g., part of the electric service….not sure we’re better off now?? Are you?
One of the damnedest bulbs I have to change is my porch light, and the CFL I have there is nearing the end of it’s 3rd year running 24/7. It is an “encased” light/bulb with plastic cover over the lamp coils, and designed for outdoor use. It’s rated as equivalent to 60 watts incandescent, but my photo light meter says it’s closer to 50 or so in terms of brightness…about 15% less bright…still good enough.
Now as for this all being “mandated” by executive order or law, that is total crap and will not save anyone a dime in the long run. A full size car today gets about 21 mpg average (IF the measurement is honest and covers ALL driving averaged)…that’s the exact same mileage achieved by a full sized car in the old annual “Mobil Economy Run” in the late 1950’s…Hello? Car then that won it was an old timey Chrysler 300 with 300 horsepower as well. What happened? We increased efficiency at the same time we added gizmos and luxuries to the vehicles…net gain, nada. Meanwhile we’ve achieved far more horsepower per cubic inch of engine size today than before.
Let the market place decide what’s popular and the manufacturers decide what to build based upon that, thank you very much. Well intended mandates do nothing but interfere with the market and cost you more money. Not less. You only think you save money because some politico tells you so.

Zoyadog on December 21, 2007 at 11:15 am

have found the warmest hue, indistinguishable from incandescent light,
at about 2700 Kelvin
3000 Kelvin was both warm and very bright
5000 Kelvin, too much like fluorescent for my taste, even when labelled ‘daylight’
for anyone just starting out,
ask a rep to show you all the Kelvin types, and pick what you like best,
(any ‘lighting’ store, Home Depot doesn’t have it,
the Chinese bulbs go for about $20 for 5 pack of 40watt chandelier base)
have seen them advertised but have not tried them
try the dimmer in the store first,
and if it doesn’t burn the store down,
(and you have a circuit breaker for that fixture)
then ‘maybe’ try it at home

exdemexlib on December 21, 2007 at 11:28 am

Yes, there are dimmable compact fluorescent lamps. You’ll have to look closely at the package, or ask for help from a store clerk.

There is NO Santa Claus on December 21, 2007 at 1:11 pm

Okay, you got me there….you are trying to replicate incandesent light temperature and hue, thus less than 5000 K appeals to you. Does to me too for living rooms, and dinning rooms. None the less you really are in the reddish end of the spectrum. Generally, however, I prefer the light temp and hue of sunlight out of doors, say between 10 AM and 2 PM, if I can get it.
I was/am being a pedant about Kelvin ratings, when it really amounts to what you like individually and how it “strikes” your eyes.
Incandesent lights are always well under 5000K and that can be seen easily if you take a photograph (without white balance correction) without flash in a incandesent lighted room….it will have an almost orange hue in print.

Zoyadog on December 21, 2007 at 8:36 pm

I have found out, though that those energy savers don’t work as well for outdoor lighting in chicago that requires you to turn it on and off constantly and quickly. The energy savers take a little bit to get to full brightness, and it isn’t as convenient. Still, thanks for the info!

Ender Berett on December 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm

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