Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Banning The Traditional Incandescent Light Bulb

From Wall Street Journal:

Just like that--like flipping a switch--Congress and the president banned incandescent light bulbs last month. OK, they did not exactly ban them. But the energy bill passed by Congress and signed by President Bush sets energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs that traditional incandescent bulbs cannot meet.

The new rules phase in starting in 2012, but don't be lulled by that five-year delay. Whether it's next week or next decade, you will one day walk into a hardware store looking for a 100-watt bulb--and there won't be any. By 2014, the new efficiency standards will apply to 75-watt, 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs too.

It is interesting in how it impacts people with certain disabilities, which probably was not brought up in the discussion of this bill. People with specific types of brain damage get painful headaches from fluorescent bulbs. One of the people my wife knows was in a car accident a few years back, and had brain damage which caused her to lose her sense of smell. And she works in a building where all the lights are fluorescent. In order not to get headaches and not be able to function, they set up a special lamp for her, such that when she comes in, she turns off the overhead light and uses the traditional incandescent bulb.

But if such bulbs are banned or unavailable, what will these people do?

The article I linked to makes different arguments against this. Check it out.


Zach Kessin said...

We have mostly converted our house to the new florescent bulbs, and in general we like them.

That being said a lot of photographers are pretty unhappy, it is really hard to get a decent white balance out of a florescent bulb, and since the the intensity of the light varies with time (at 120hz) it can do interesting things when your shutter speed is fast.

Josh M. said...

The article brings a basic capitalist argument that consumption should be driven solely by demand rather than by some greater "social good", which often conflicts with an individual's personal good.

Given the disadvantages of fluorescent bulbs, though, I would have to believe that there would exist a demand for improved technologies that do not emit UV light (perhaps by being coated with a material that absorbs UV light) and that do not flicker (this is already the case for most compact fluorescent lights). These improvements should mitigate the health effects.

thanbo said...

Yeah, I have a friend like that. She's on disability, because she can't work in a modern work environment lit with fluorescent bulbs.


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