Energy Efficiency CFLs Face Fight in Washington

Last Updated:
Mon, 2012-10-29 12:49
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Compact Florescent Lightbulbs. Ah, the CFL. I’m willing to bet that ten years ago you could throw a brick at a Green Peace summit and not hit a single individual who knew the meaning of that now ubiquitous acronym. What was once a cutting edge, albeit non-traditional, way to light your home or your business has undeniably become the poster product of the green movement. And while true sustainability champions might caution us against the simplicity of the argument, we’ve all heard it, probably heeded it, and you have to admit – it is a start: “Be Green. Change Your Light Bulbs.”

Back in 2007, the House successfully passed a comprehensive energy bill that included a phase out of traditional incandescent light bulb technologies by 2012. The products that are intended to take the place of the trusty incandescent include CFL’s, LEDs, and halogens, each of which must meet a target efficiency improvement of 70% over common incandescent bulbs by 2014. Seems simple enough: reduce national energy demand by mandating newer, more efficient technologies to take the place of older, less efficient ones.

But now the bulbs have met their most vocal opponent. According to an article in Mother Jones magazine, Erick Erickson, a blogger on the site Red State, has penned an open request to lawmakers to “do only 1 thing during your time in Washington . . . SAVE THE LIGHT BULB”.

Funny how people can get so sentimental about something as seemingly innocuous as a little glass bulb with a filament in it. Of course the government’s intent here is not to dictate the purchase of more imported goods from China, or require Americans to fill their homes with mercury laden ticking timebombs, as some people may believe. Green building enthusiasts realize that the real motivation behind the phase out is to simultaneously reduce our nation’s energy demand and encourage private investment in more sustainable technologies, thereby spurring job growth in this country (yay!) and reduce our demand on foreign sources of energy (yay! again).

It’s not just about the CFL, either. Any technology that is more efficient then the incandescent is acceptable to the terms of the phase out. As we’ve seen in the last few years, LED technology has come a long way, and CFL’s may be eclipsed by these even more efficient bulbs in the not too distant future. It’s not a stretch to think that ten years from now we might be debating the merits of some yet unknown acronym…and hopefully saving even more money and energy in the process.

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