Today, the House is scheduled to vote on legislation that would repeal lighting efficiency standards enacted in 2007. Sponsors of the bill say they're repealing the so-called "bulb ban," an artfully false way to refer to what the 2007 law actually does.
The repeal proposal has been a joy ride for talk radio agitators and demagoguing politicians that, if enacted, would increase energy waste and strand investments by lighting manufacturers who could do without the interference.
My post last week about the light bulb bill drew comments from critics who said:
So, at the risk of burning down my house and/or burning up all of this week's grocery money, I went searching for an incandescent light bulb that complies with those 2007 standards, which were included in an energy bill that passed by wide bipartisan majorities and was quickly signed into law by then-President George W. Bush.
I didn't have to go far. At a Home Depot a few miles from home, on shelves filled with incandescents, compact fluorescents, and LEDs, I picked out a box of two Philips "EcoVantage" soft white, halogen incandescent light bulbs - rated at 43 watts per bulb, sporting that familiar screw-in light bulb "A" shape, and fully compliant with the 2007 standards. (See photo at right.)
Cost - $2.99 plus tax, or about a buck fifty per bulb, plus Governor Gregoire's take. ($7.27 for two bulbs on amazon.com.) Took the box home and screwed one of the bulbs into a lamp fixture. Flipped the switch. Flash! The bulb sprang to life instantly, sending bright light throughout my office.
I kept the lit bulb in the fixture for half an hour and then put my hand on it. Yeah, it was warm, but no warmer than a conventional incandescent bulb. In fact, it was cooler to the touch than a 23-watt compact fluorescent bulb shining a few feet away. My hand did not hurt from touching the incandescent. My home did not catch fire.
Next, I took the other bulb out of the box and screwed it into a recessed fixture on a dimming circuit. Flipped the switch and on it came, lickety split. Then I played with the dimmer dial. Up. Down. Up. Down. The bulb dimmed perfectly, and with greater variation in light output than LEDs on the same circuit.
While the Philips bulbs draw 43 watts, they put out as much light as 60-watt conventional incandescent bulbs, yielding a 28 percent saving on energy costs.
Why 28 percent? That is the efficiency improvement required by the 2007 law. Far from being "arbitrary," the legislation's language was worked out in close consultation with lighting manufacturers, who wanted technology-neutral standards their engineers could work with in designing new bulbs that would have the same look and feel of conventional incandescents, but use less energy.
They pulled it off, well ahead of the 2012 deadline for compliance. If you don't like Philips' new incandescent bulbs, there are competing products on offer from Sylvania ($5.55 for two bulbs) and GE ($7 for two bulbs). Or you can go with any of the compact fluorescents ($7 for eight GE bulbs) that they and other manufacturers sell. Or LEDs ($14 and up per bulb). Whatever suits you.
Someday, our kids will wonder what all the fuss was about.
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