From an article by George Will, Perils of a Bright Idea.
“Clear people and pets from the room and open a window for at least 15 minutes if possible. Avoid vacuuming. Scoop up larger pieces with stiff paper or cardboard, pick up smaller residue with sticky tape, and wipe the area with a damp cloth. Put everything into a sealed plastic bag or sealed glass jar. In most cases, this can be put in the trash, but the EPA recommends checking local rules.”
What kind of horrid device in your home and around your children, would carry such a stern warning? An Easy Bake Oven – Anthrax Edition? What household item could this possibly be? A CFL, Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb. I never thought about how dangerous these things are. Now many people believe that using CFL’s is the way of the future to use lessÂ energyÂ and cut carbon emissions. Maybe so, but at what cost? Health risks and injury? Now before you start getting all beady-eyed while reading this, note that I’m not against these bulbs, we have them throughout half the house. But we’ve notices some problems and I thought they were exclusive to me, based on my wife’s belief in karma and that I haven’t always been a good boy in my life. Bulbs going out way before theÂ suggestedÂ 10,000 ours and taking a while to light up. Then I read this…
Although supposed to last 10,000 hours and save, the Times says, “as much as” $5.40 a year in electricity costs, some bulbs died within a few hours. Some experts, reports the Times, “blame the government for the quality problems,” saying its push to cut the bulbs’ prices prompted manufacturers to use inferior components.Â Furthermore, some experts have written a guide saying the new bulbs require “a little insight and planning. Â ” The Times says that “may be an understatement. “The bulbs, says the Times, “do not do well in hot places with little airflow, like recessed ceiling fixtures,” and some do not work “with dimmers or three-way sockets.” And: “Be aware that compact fluorescents can take one to three minutes to reach full brightness. This is not a defect.” Well, if you say so.Â Because all fluorescents contain mercury, a toxic metal, they must never be put in the trash, so Home Depot and other chains offer bins for disposing of dangerous bulbs. Driving to one of these disposal points might not entirely nullify the bulbs’ environmental benefits. Besides, the Times summarizes the Environmental Protection Agency’s helpful suggestions for coping with the environmental dangers caused when one of these environment-saving bulbs breaks.Â Worrywarts wonder what will happen when a lazy or careless, say, 10 percent of 300 million Americans put their worn-out bulbs in the trash. Stop worrying. What do you think? That Congress, architect of the ethanol industry and designer of automobiles, does not think things through?
So in an effort to get these bulbs out, the government pushed companies to get prices down, and how do companies rapidly get pricing down? Use less quality components, doe less research and take short cuts. But I don’t recall that stern warning on the box, or it must be in real fine print that we all ignore. I’m not sure what theÂ ordnanceÂ is in my town. I can imagine many people have just dumped them in the trash. And to think, after 2014, you won’t be able to purchase an incandescent light bulb, they are banned as of 2014, part of that recent energy bill.
When it comes to reducing the carbon footprint and greenhouse gases, one cannot simply mandate new technology until it’s fully proven and also Â note that alternatives and additions to the problem must be considered. Items like increasing energy output with clean technology, and smart energy usage. We have these CFL’s in our family room which are recessed lights. They are not as bright, and do take the three or so minutes to get to full lumens. Frustrating to say the least. Well, unless that’s resolved and the labels clearly states, we fixed it, I’ll be sticking with the traditional recessed bulbs until 2014. The rest of the house can use the CFL’s, they’re working OK, unless I start noticing the actual reduced hours vs. what’s advertised. You know, for centuriesÂ peopleÂ used candles. Hmmm….