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Into the Darkness (Death of the Incandescent Lightbulb)

December 14, 2013

December 14, 2013

My daughter recently posted a link to a news story on Facebook lamenting the demise of the incandescent light bulb. This is one of the biggest scam’s foisted upon the people of the USA in the last 10 years. Manufacturing and importing of most incandescents in the USA will cease on January 1, 2014.  Intending to write a quick response I instead went into “hyper typing mode” and with very little attention to contiguous thought spewed forth the following, which I belief makes my view rather clear. I’ll try to fix the typos, but no promises.

As the article states, there will be plenty of real light bulbs floating around for years to come. Doesn’t matter to me, I’ve got two lifetimes worth stashed away already. There’s so much they don’t tell us about CFL’s and all the others. LED’s are the way of the future, but it’s gonna take a lot more time for the price to come down. CFL’s are evil. First of all they say we’ll save money. No, we won’t. I can buy regular bulbs for 25 CENTS each. I’ve not seen CFL’s anywhere near this. May be a couple bucks. So, out of the chute you’re already paying 8 times the price. Oh, but they last longer! Yes, they do. 8 times longer? Maybe under perfect conditions. If they’re installed upside down (socket end up) they have shorter lives. If they’re in an enclosed fixture, they burn out sooner. So install them upright in an open fixture — pretty much nothing other than a standard lamp. You can’t throw them away. You have to get rid of them through hazardous waste disposal. They must be tossed properly. You have to take them to a recycling place or store that accepts them for proper disposal. Every store around here charges for that. Last one I went to charged a buck a bulb. Add that to your cost, by the way. Unless you say screw it and toss ‘em in the trash like most people do. But that is a violation of Federal law. Ever read the package about what you should do if you break one? For God’s sake don’t vacuum or you’ll disperse mercury dust around the room. Oh, yeah, there’s a teeny bit of mercury in them. They tell you it’s such a tiny amount that it doesn’t matter. Then, why the rules on disposal and if you break one? Far less mercury than the old thermometers had in them. The difference is this is the kind of mercury that you can INHALE. And you may have had one or two mercury thermometers back in the day but how many lightbulbs are there in your house? Let me do a “from my head quick count”. I’m counting 43 but there’s probably a few lamps I’m not remembering . That’s a lot of fragile curleycues with mercury in them, eh? Oh, but they’ll save you money on your power bill. Meh. Lighting is roughly 10% of the typical home in the USA’s power usage. So, even if these fancy new bulbs used ZERO electricity, you might save 10%. Is that enough to offset paying 8x the cost or MORE PLUS the cost of disposal? Oh, wait, of course CFL’s won’t “dim” so if you have light dimmers they won’t work with CFL’s. OH, how about outside? If you live where it gets cold — like a large percentage of the country — CFL’s won’t come on when it’s blow zero for example. So those house lights, garage lights, won’t come on, and if they do (sometimes they start up after a long time) they don’t even come close to their normal output. Oh, yeah, you CAN buy special cold rated CFL’s for outdoor cold weather use — last ones I saw were $8 and $12. EACH. Few of those out in the garage and on the house and that’s gonna wipe out any potential savings you have. I have about 20 blow mold Christmas decorations out in the yard, with a traditional 40 watt bulb in each. Converting these to cold weather CFL’s would cost me a couple hundred bucks. A hundred bucks bought me 400 incandescent bulbs! Oh, and remember that a CFL is’t a simple device like an incandescent bulb. An incandescent bulb is just a filament connected to the base. A CFL has an electronic ballast built into it’s base with a couple transistors, a rectifier, capacitors, etc. It’s a far more complex device than a regular bulb. That’s why they can have issues when upside down or in an enclosure — heat build up causes these circuits to fail. Think of all the mercury that’s in the FACTORIES! think of all the mercury that’s being dealt with in disposal and recycling! A product so EVIL it was banned from EVERYTHING and declared extremely hazardous. Then, suddenly declared OK in homes and manufacturing for these wonderful new light bulbs! Yes, we have a few CFL’s in the house. The new living room light/fan came with them as it’s rated to have two 13 watt CFL’s in it (they’re about equal to 60 watts of light) but they come on slow (takes a couple minutes to reach full brightness) and aren’t nearly as white as the real bulbs. We have a few CFL’s in things at work and they do seem to last a couple years in an enclosed fixture, which is at least twice as long as a regular bulb has. But they cost 8 times more and we have to pay a buck to thrown one away — which means they now cost 12 times more. Did anyone mention that CFLs are all made in CHINA!!!! Heard about the smog problem in Bejing? That’s because OUR environmental laws make it too expensive (or impossible) to make them here as we don’t want all that SMOG, but in China, they crank ‘em out for us no problem. Oh, you CAN buy CFL’s “assembled” in the USA. All the components come from China, but they put them together here to make you feel patriotic. Oh, and I just checked, a 12 pack of those USA assembled CFL bulbs, as I type this are $76. Plus shipping. Keep in mind all the OTHER bulbs this company sells are made in China. They make this ONE bulb in the USA by putting together Chinese parts. A 12 pack of regular bulbs is $3. Yes. THREE dollars. So, yeah, I guess that’s worth it. Won’t take me long to earn that back in savings, right? Oh, and you’ll spend $12 throwing out those USA CFL’s if you do it legally around here. Oh, and that box of $76 dollars bulbs come with a 24 MONTH warranty. Hardly the 8 – 15 years the energy people are promising us. There WAS a thriving, 100% USA made and manufactured light bulb factory churning out incandescent bulbs up until 2010. General Electric was making USA made bulbs in Virginia, employing hundreds of US factory workers. After the drop in demand after the phase out of real bulbs started in 2007, the finally had to pack it in. So, what the heck, enjoy your hazardous Chinese lightbulbs, and the new industries they’ve created, mostly related to dealing with hazardous materials. Certainly no manufacturing jobs. The last bulb plant in the US was full of dedicated workers who had worked there 20 -30 years or more, earning up to $30 an hour — making a product used in the USA and made in the USA. To heck with that. Yeah, you don’t see my buying too many CFL’s. And it’s a good thing I hate typing or this would have been a lot longer.

So, I guess that pretty much sums it up.  Prepare for the usual onslaught of greenies who will tell me I’m wrong, but have no real life facts.

And furthermore…. the entire concept of “saving energy” that will “save you money” in the long run is nonsense.  Lets say, that by some miracle of science, we were able to wake up tomorrow morning to a nation that suddenly required one half the electricity that we needed today. Your $100 a month electric bill suddenly became a $50 dollar bill.  The entire population was using half as much power. Wow, are we saving!  Until the power company folks get to work Monday morning and realize they are now taking in half as much money.  Now, of course they won’t have to buy as much power from whoever is supplying it, but then the supplier also earns half as much.  But your power company, which now has half their usual income coming is still has their staff to pay.  They have the same miles and miles of lines to maintain. They still need substations, transformers, and the related maintenance. These costs did not go down just because you’re using less power. But it will be so nice when that power company has to write up the pink slips for all those employees they can’t afford to keep on now, and the remaining staff has to work twice as hard, give up days off, and hustle their butts compromising safety to keep things running.  So, what happens?  The rate goes up to compensate.  You don’t save any money, you just get less power for your money. This happens all the time.  All over this country, especially in California and Florida, water saving plans have gone into effect the past few years and the cost for water has gone up to make up the difference in lost revenue.  People are buying more efficient cars, buying less gas. You buy less gas the state takes in less road tax on gas, as the gas tax is added on to your gas purchase.  Less tax revenue from gas sales equals less money to maintain roads. So, in some States they raised the gas tax to make up the difference.  In others (really) they changed the law and they tax you on MILES DRIVEN not how much gas you buy! Yes, they now make you install a device in your car that electronically keeps track of how many miles your car covers, and they charge you the tax per mile. So, financially, in the long run, it won’t save you any money.  Then you read about how the mercury in the bulbs is offset by less mercury put into the sky by power plants because they’re generating less power. Umm, domestic lighting is less than 1% of the load on the nations power grid. And they never mention the increased cost of manufacturing and transporting the new bulbs.  They’re heavier.  Doesn’t make much difference in a 4 pack in your bag from the store, but check out the difference when it’s half a million bulbs on a ship coming from China.  Of course we don’t care about the pollution created from making the new fancy bulbs since they make them in China and THEY get all the pollution, but from a global perspective it’s a LOT of pollution. TOXIC pollution. Know what I have sitting here on my desk?  A box of 4 Sylvania 40 watt incandescent bulbs that I paid a dollar for at Target last year. They’re MADE IN THE USA!  Says right on the box and the bulbs!

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