The Wall Street Journal this week weighed in on the ban on incandescent from the energy bill of 2007 signed by Bush to phase out the incandescent light bulb by 2014. Naturally, their opinion is that banning products that are essentially harmless and in demand from citizens is bad policy. As usual, I have multiple points of view on this issue as well.
First, I agree with the WSJ that ramming things like this down peoples’ throats is never a good idea. It appears that next month we are going to see the political fallout of such lawmaking processes. In the energy efficiency business we have to remember who we are ultimately working for – energy consumers. There are already plenty of foes of energy efficiency programs. The last thing we need is a public uprising against EE. Ultimately regulators are appointed by governors. I don’t really want to see a candidate ride a wave of uproar into the governor’s mansion on a platform with planks to dismantle EE programs.
If governments want to impose EE and other green standards for their facilities, that is fine by me as long as they are not completely stupid with my tax money. Wait a minute – Snap out of it Jeff… I must have nodded off to the land of gumdrops and lollipops – I was talking about Washington using money wisely and miserly. That will happen as soon as San Francisco makes its way to Juneau by movement of tectonic plates.
As I recall reading an article in one of the greenie publications I get, an author also thought it is bad policy to ram LEED requirements onto the private sector. I agree. It is our job to sell the public on energy efficiency by reward not by training up and deploying an army of the green police.
Secondly, keep the feds out of this kind of stuff because they have a habit of writing bills and passing them without any knowledge of what is in the foot-thick stack of paper they are voting on and/or they are ignorant of the costs and benefits and certainly the consequences the bills they fight over. Do any of them even use CFLs? Do they have any concept that they take a minute or two to reach full brightness from a pretty darn dim start? Do they have any clue that CFLs are even worse at starting in cold conditions and never do come up to rated brightness in many of these cases? Have the Vikings won the Super Bowl in the past 45 years?
Compact fluorescent light bulbs have their place for sure. I use them wherever there are significant burn hours. But there are many poor household applications such as closets, pantries, refrigerator, outdoor lighting, and bathroom lighting (at least for men – ooooh!). Sure, I could get LED lighting for these applications and those would pay back in… see the San Francisco / Juneau connection above. Somebody needs to figure out how to get CFLs to come up to brightness in a few seconds and work in cold weather.
So as usual, congress passed something that is undoable. No. I’m not going to bother to read the law because I’ll be locked up in a seizure after reading (or trying to) just a few pages because it is so painful to read and understand. Come to think of it, how can a ban on incandescent bulbs take more than one page of typed text? Actually, the repeal is two pages. Give that man a bubble gum cigar for brevity anyway. Incandescent lights will still be manufactured or there will be a major rebellion.
Compact fluorescent bulbs have dropped in price by 80-90% in the short 15 years I’ve been in the business. While they still only make up 10% of installed residential bulbs as stated in the Journal, they are flying off the shelf at three times that rate. The market is clearly swinging in the CFL direction. My mother, as one example, has installed them in most of her fixtures and while I hate to admit it, I had no influence on that.
Last week I made up a story explaining how energy efficiency results in more energy consumption as consumers have more money to spend on things. The story started with steel manufactured in China, shipped to Ontario, tires coming and going and so forth. That was a lame attempt at the insanity.
I popped this open on Sunday night and it tracks a series of manufacturing events I should have dreamed up. Rio Tinto, a huge international mining company, mines and ships iron ore from Australia to a steel plant in China. There it is processed into plate steel that is shipped to Caterpillar’s Decatur, IL plant that builds the behemoth dump trucks – the ones that look like Tonka trucks but their tires are 12 feet tall. From IL, the truck is shipped in pieces to – you guessed it, the Rio Tinto mine in Australia. You gotta love it!
Sorry I couldn’t make that up.
written by Jeffrey L. Ihnen, P.E., LEED AP