Wednesday, December 19, 2007

US To Phase Out Inefficient Lights

Following Canada's lead, the US will now be phasing out inefficient incandescent lights bulbs in favour of compact fluorescents by 2012. Read all the details here.


Anonymous said...

In Canada for 10 months of the year at least and up to all year long in most places incandescent lights are 100% efficient. The so called inefficiency of these lights is the heat they produce. Except for July and August when it's light for most waking hours anyways, or people are in institutional buildings that use fluorescents anyways, there is no waste or inefficiency. You have to heat your house anyways. This is political garbage to make people feel better about doing nothing. I for one intend to continue to use incandescent lights as they are healthier for bones and teeth and pose less of a fire safety risk and well are a whole lot nicer. And gee I've got the wood stove cranked right up and the thermostat at a whopping 15degrees 10 at night. When is the governement going to ban SUV's. That would make a difference. Compact fluorescents will make none.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Good news, fer sure. I'd like to see governments take a leading role on more than just regulations. Government buildings in both Canada and the US could be outfitted with CFB's and other energy saving features starting now.

If government leads by example, we'd have more enthusiasm for voluntary conservation. If government passed along energy savings by way of tax cuts, we'd be sold on the green economy.

Solar panels on government building would be like billboards for energy efficiency.



When the full accounting is done, are candles more energy-efficient?

Lisa McGlaun said...

That's great. It's about time. I replaced all of my lights over a year ago and I'm so glad that I did.

Anuj said...

It's a step in the right direction but if you come to think about it, is it really that effective?
Well no, if one does the math then one realizes that this is a rather myopic step, true the bulbs have to go I am not disputing that but we have to do something more, I think that the US is avoiding what could be a major industrial crisis, a dramatic cut down in consumption of petro chemicals will force them to change the very fundamentals of their economy and indeed their society, they have the money to do it but who has the will?

Anuj said...

This is a classic example of too little too late....

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

I've read so many blogs against these and yet I have them in every room, the new type. It has to be better.

James Tiberius Bond said...

Although many are on the band wagon to reduce our CO2 emissions, here are a few thoughts about CFLs.

While there are significant carbon savings from the perspective of the end user (this is what the Canadian Govt focused on), we must also consider the impacts of increased manufacturing costs due to more complex electronics; increased transportation costs due to increased weight per unit; effects of CFL light on humans; and the other toxins released into our environment through manufacturing and proper or improper disposal of CFLs.

What appears to be environmentally sound from an end user's perspective needs to reconsidered based on the entire life cycle of a CFL. Below are few notes to think about:

Note 1: A sample of Government of Canada statements made in support of the ban:

- Minister of Environment John Baird said on April 25: "Using more energy-efficient light bulbs is a great example of a concrete action Canadians can take at home to reduce harmful greenhouse emissions and save energy.”

- On the same day, Minister of Natural Resources Mr. Gary Lunn said that the Canada-wide ban will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than six million tonnes a year, saving homeowners about $60 a year in electricity costs.

- The Government’s recently announced “Action on Climate Change and Air Pollution” makes the following statement: “We will also phase out the use of inefficient incandescent light bulbs by 2012. All this will give Canadian consumers real opportunity both to save money on energy and to help clean up our environment.”

- Environment Canada’s EnviroZine Web site states: “If every household in Canada changed just one traditional incandescent light bulb to an ENERGY STAR labelled CFL, the country would save over $73 million in energy costs every year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 397,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide – which would have the same impact on climate change as taking 66,000 cars off the road for one year.”

- March 19, 2007 Environment Canada press release: it was explained that the Government of Nunavut may use Canada ecoTrust funding to, among other things, place “a ban on incandescent light bulbs, which will result in an annual reduction of 1,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide or equivalent.”

Note 2: Potential disadvantages of a mandated mass switch to CFLs:

- Their initial purchase price is significantly higher than incandescent light bulbs.

- The light quality from all but the most expensive CFLs is considered by many Canadians to be significantly less pleasant than incandescents and, according to numerous scientific studies, has a detrimental impact on human health and performance due to the spectrum of the light emitted from cool white fluorescents (which is the type often employed – ‘full spectrum’ CFL’s typically cost $30 per CFL bulb and use more power than inexpensive CFLs). Many in the public have expressed a profound dislike for CFL illumination – here is a sample of public opinion from the National Post and here is a sample of the many calls Ottawa’s CFRA talk radio shows have received on the topic.

- CFLs are seen by many Canadians to be less convenient than incandescent light bulbs for a number of reasons – here are some:

1. They can not be disposed of as normal household garbage but must be taken to a mercury recycling facility – your department has expressed concern about mercury as a toxin.
2. Breaking a CFL is a concern as they cannot simply be vacuumed up the way a broken incandescent bulb can. General Electric (GE) recommends the public wear chemical resistant gloves in the clean up process.
3. CFLs do not operate properly at temperatures below freezing. The U.S. Department of Energy lists a number of situations where CFL use is inappropriate – see page 2 of
4. According to GE, CFLs are not for use in track, recessed or dimmer fixtures.
5. GE recommends against using CFLs in applications involving vibration such as a ceiling fan or garage door opener as vibration can cause CFL electronics to fail.
6. According to this reference: “Compact fluorescent lamps emit electromagnetic frequency wavelengths, which can interfere with household signals such as television and radio. For this reason, manufacturers recommend positioning these lamps at least eight feet away from such devices.” Here is GE’s recommendation.
7. There is a short delay before CFLs fully illuminate. GE explains: “Compact fluorescent light bulbs work best if they are left on for over 15 minutes each time they are turned on. These types of lamps can take up to 3 minutes to warm-up. Warm-up will probably not be noticeable from a user stand point, but the lamp needs to warm-up in order to reach the point of most efficient operation.”
8. There have been reports of CFLs catching fire when operated on the wrong voltage.

Note 3: Some of the factors to consider in an environmental life cycle analysis of competing lighting options:

- The environmental impact of the mercury used in CFLs must be considered. This would include methods of disposal and resultant leakage into the environment. According to the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers in the U.S. (2004), 70.8% of the mercury lamps used by business and 98% of the lamps used in homes are not being recycled and simply end up in landfills. Many of these eventually leak mercury into the surrounding environment.

- The CFL manufacturing process is apparently more complex, requiring more electronic materials than the manufacture of incandescent bulbs. This results in a different environmental impact during the manufacturing process that must be considered.

- The location of manufacturing must be considered as well since different countries have different environmental standards that would apply during the manufacture of light bulbs. Location is also a factor as it relates to the pollution produced during transportation of the bulbs for sale.

- Various factors from Note 4, below, affect environmental impact as well.

Note 4: Some of the factors to consider in an energy life cycle analysis of competing lighting options:

- The Environment Canada Web site states: “Standard incandescent bulbs ... waste 90 per cent of their energy by producing heat, not light.” This statement is misleading since Canada requires massive quantities of space heating for most of the year. While the efficiency of space heating with heat from incandescent light bulbs is not high in comparison with, for instance, space heating from natural gas, it does significantly improve on the overall efficiency of energy use in these bulbs during cold weather and so must be considered in the overall energy life cycle analysis.

- As stated above, the CFL manufacturing process is more complex, requiring more electronic materials and higher product-inspection and quality-control costs, presumably also increasing the energy consumed in their manufacture.

- CFLs are considerably heavier and their packaging more bulky than incandescent bulbs. One reference lists a package of four CFLs as weighing 710 grams and occupying double the space of a pack of four incandescents which weigh 170 grams. This results in greater energy requirements for shipping and storage (and subsequently, greater environmental impact as well).

- The energy required to recycle the toxic components of CFL must be considered.

- According to this reference: ”Since turning an incandescent bulb on and off doesn't shorten the life of its filament significantly, you do well to turn it off whenever possible. The same isn't true of a fluorescent tube--turning it on ages its filaments significantly (due to sputtering processes) so you shouldn't turn a fluorescent lamp off if you plan to restart it in less than about 1 minute.” Following these directions (which are similar to those of the manufacturers) would result in CFLs being on for greater durations that ordinary bulbs. The impact on total energy consumption (and subsequent pollution produced) must be considered.

- The net energy cost (and subsequent environmental impact) of transporting used or broken CFLs to a mercury recycling facility.

- The net energy cost (and subsequent environmental impact) of replacing functional incandescent bulbs with CFLs.

Note 5: Some of the factors to consider in an economic life cycle analysis of competing lighting options:

- As stated above, the CFL manufacturing process is more complex, requiring more electronic materials and higher product-inspection and quality-control costs.

- Will the public continue to use low cost CFLs or switch to more expensive CFLs when the poor light quality of less expensive CFLs becomes apparent (see health impact considerations below)?

- The net reduction in CFL life expectancy due to repeated turning on and off.

- The greater shipping and storage costs of CFLs due to their greater mass and bulk.

Note 6: Some of the factors to consider in a health analysis of competing lighting options:

- As explained in Note 2, many studies have demonstrated a measurable negative impact on human health and productivity when subjects change from use of incandescent lights to cool white fluorescents (the most commonly used – various lighting spectrums may be seen here).

- Health impacts may also translate into significant economic costs if CFLs completely replace incandescents in offices, factories, schools and homes.

- The impact of mercury emissions from improper disposal of CFLs.

- It has been suggested that fluorescent light destroys vitamin D with commensurate negative health impacts.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

In the Philippines, we have been using these type of bulbs since 1998, although these are quite pricey. The life span makes it more economical actually, not to mention savings in electric bills.

This was introduced in the country by Phillips, a Dutch company. Locally, we had the elongated fluorescent bulbs which comes with a starter and a ballast. This type of lamp was in use since the 1950's. It was invented by a Filipino but was bought later by GE.

Its nice to hear that the US will phase out inefficient lights. 'About time!--Durano, done!

E. R. Dunhill said...

I've read that it depends upon how the candles are made and used, though I'm inclined to say that for the overwhelming majority of people reading this, candles are significantly less efficient. (Apologies to those readers who raise bees and/or tallow trees and make their own candles) Dyes, fragrances, and other artificial materials, and place of manufacture significantly impact the amount of energy involved in a candle's lifecycle. And, bear in mind that a CFL will produce light for (roughly) 10,000 hours. A large jar-type candle burns for around 120 hours; you'd need around 80 of those candles to generate light for the same amount of time as a CF bulb, intensity of light aside. Unless you buy candles by the pallet, you're looking at lots of trips to the store. And in any event, you're looking at shipping 80+ candles from the factory to the store, versus 1 CF bulb.
But, if you have local sources for materials or finished candles, and you don't use extraneous things like artificial colors or scents, and you don't need the luminosity of a bulb, candles may be a better solution.

Anonymous said...

On a different note, I found this article listing the greenest cities in the US. This shows that municipalities care about climate change. I guess the general population cares about the environment and global warming. My score on their calculator was 400 but at least I am trying. Here is the link to the website that published the list of cites and where the carbon calculator can be found: The test took me like 5 minutes tops, and then maybe another 2 minutes to find the pledges I wanted. Pretty cool application.

Friendly Ghost said...

I hope the Indian government follows the lead of the US and Canadian government... or preferably, walks two steps ahead of them by banning inefficient lightbulbs pronto.

Below, I outline an idea for bringing irresponsible manufacturers to heel for promoting products that pollute. Please consider it.

There is an important social principle that is currently being violated by many manufacturing activities: the principle that, while engaged in a profit-making activity, one must not leave a mess behind for the rest of society to clean up.

This principle is understood in a societal context as common decency, but is continually breached in our economy to such an extent that nobody even objects!

The easiest example is that of mineral water and soft-drink manufacturers, who sell a product that results in a consumer who usually discards a non-biodegradable PET bottle into the environment in an unregulated manner.

We should mobilize citizens to demand legislation that every manufacturer must repurchase/collect and recycle as many tonnes of raw material as he uses on a week-by-week basis. For example, if a mineral-water manufacturer uses ten tonnes of plastics per week to manufacture bottles, he MUST buy back ten tonnes of plastic scrap and safely recycle it. The same goes for automobile manufacturers, who must buy back that many tonnes of metals, plastics, glass etc. every week, and find ways to recycle them. The cost may be met by raising the market price of their product... but the responsibility to make the recycling activity happen MUST be fixed on the manufacturer of every product.

The same goes for manufacturers of tyres, batteries, plastic goods, newspapers, clothes, chemicals, auto-lubricant oils, etc. The list is long.

And if this makes some manufacturing and marketing processes unviable, it means that their economic activity was unviable in the first place, and was sustainable only by passing on hidden costs to the environment, to society, to consumers etc !

Many industrial activities are environmentally and socially subsidized to keep them economically profitable. Let us lobby governments to knock off that subsidy and see how many activities remain sustainable!

I propose peaceful demonstrations to remedy this

Small groups of citizens shall collect the branded packaging material of various manufacturers from the environment, and delivering them in large bundles every week to their corporate offices. It belongs to them, right? So let them have it back!

A peaceful demonstration like this, sustained over some weeks, would make a powerful statement. I think this will make a powerful media impact as well... and thereby, an impact on the consciousness of people.

What say? I would appreciate your detailed responses to this idea.

May I suggest a meeting on Saturday, 6th Jan, to specifically discuss how and when to mobilize this sort of a demonstration?

Please feel free to call me anytime on my mobile (98215 88114) to discuss this one-to-one.

Warm Regards
Krishnaraj Rao
Member, Global Warming Committee
Indian Merchants' Chamber

Founding Member, Children of the Earth