Here is a brief History lesson for all of us:
In 1878 (ish), Thomas Edison successfully perfected the incandescent light bulb. In 1904, the incandescent light bulb was made even better, with the addition of a tungsten coil. And in 2007, the U.S. Federal Government enacted the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, encouraging the phasing out of incandescent bulbs at various wattage levels. And people got angry.
Now, I am not here to discuss the principle of government regulation. However, it is important that we all are educated on the reasons why the federal government would impose an act involving light bulbs. It’s not that Congress wanted to have the brightest building in the country, nor is it that President Obama was tired of the lighting in the Oval Office. Actually, the heart of the issue lies in the concept of energy efficiency.
Little known fact:
Incandescent light bulbs convert only 10% of electricity into actual light. The remaining 90% is converted into heat. I highly doubt that Edison gave a rip about the heat-to-light ratio 1878, when he realized that he was holding the world’s first actual long-burning bulb. With how much stuff costs these days, things are placed into a different light. A 10% conversion ratio means that every $100 spent to power lights in a home produces only $10 worth of light. This begs the question: Why am I paying $100 for $10 in true results?
Energy Star Light Bulb
Over the past couple of decades, a movement has emerged to raise awareness over electrical products and appliances, and how their use ultimately impacts the environment AND your wallet over time. The end goal would be to use significantly less energy, yet give the consumer the same product result. The energy savings, combined with added tax incentives, created a winning situation for many consumers upgrading their appliances. In 1999, the compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) earned an energy star label; meaning that CFL’s met 12 specific requirements, including overall efficiency, lifetime, safety and reliability. In the end, we are left with a product that can operate with at least 3 times the efficiency of a normal incandescent light bulb. In most cases, the efficiency is much greater.
What’s the catch?
In the spirit of full disclosure, I must be fair and share some of the cons to having a CFL in your home. That way, you can decide for yourself if the transition to energy efficient lighting is right for your home.
Many CFL bulbs look funny. They have completely broken the spherical mold, and went with more of a pigtail motif. For those who might have exposed bulbs, especially in a decorative manner, these might not be a suitable alternative. However, many CFL bulb makers are starting to catch on to the demand for good-looking stuff, and are putting out some more cosmetically pleasing products.
Many CFL bulbs contain Mercury. These bulbs are built to last much, much longer than normal incandescent bulbs. To accomplish this, manufacturers had to use some heavy-duty material. In the even that a bulb breaks, proper disposal is important.
CFL bulbs cost more. You can tell this just by looking at them. These bulbs can cost upwards of 5 times the cost of an incandescent light bulb. However, you must keep in mind that the trade off is in the energy savings. Your shopping bill might be more, but your electricity bills will be significantly less.
Even though I lean on the side of energy efficiency, I know that every person is different. If nothing else, I hope this gives you a little more understanding of CFL bulbs. Saving money and energy are two of the strongest principles we hold here at TenList.com.
All the best for you and your home.