TCS Daily


Back to Bulb Basics

By Jay Bryant - April 4, 2007 12:00 AM

The incandescent light bulb, it appears, is on the way out, and everyone is going to save a lot of money as a result.

I'm telling you, it's not worth it.

Here's my disclaimer. My great grandfather, Charles Stilwell, worked for Thomas Edison, and his sister was Edison's first wife. So you can write me off as a guy with a genealogical prejudice in favor of Edison's brightest invention, with its glowing filaments.

Okay, now to the story, in case you missed it.

Recently a group of environmental and industrial organizations announced that they planned what they called a "market phase-out" of incandescent light bulbs over the next decade. Replacing them will be fluorescent lights, including those squiggly pretzel-like things you've seen in stores for the last few years. Screw one of these babies into your socket and, proponents of the idea say, you'll save 75% in energy costs; the bulbs will also last eight to ten times longer (but they do cost about four times as much to purchase).

The move against incandescence is already well advanced overseas. In Australia, the government is banning the bad old bulbs, and expects to have it done in just two years.

Although a few state legislators here in the US are also talking about introducing such bills, the sponsors of the coalition have a much more powerful idea. One of the key groups behind the US effort is the National Resources Defense Council. Not trusting legislative action, they've energized, so to speak, the private sector to do their bidding.

Phillips Lighting, a Dutch company and the largest manufacturer of light bulbs in the world, is pledging to phase out making incandescent bulbs. And electric utility companies are in favor of the idea, too, because the resulting energy saving would mean they wouldn't have to build so many new power plants - thirty fewer nuclear reactors and eighty fewer coal plants, they say.

Unlike most businesses, utility companies don't actually want to grow their industry. Guaranteed a profit by the state regulatory commissions, they're in the unusual position of being able to dispense with all the fuss and bother of increasing sales and expanding production. If energy gets more expensive, they simply raise their rates. The politicians yell and scream and threaten to hold hearings, but then, after the elections, the rate hikes go through. That's precisely what happened here in Maryland where I live in 2006.

Then there are the big commercial and industrial users of light bulbs. If you've noticed something different in your local Wal-Mart lately, but can't quite put your finger on it, it might be the lighting. They've switched to fluorescents. There's no doubt about it, a big company like that can save millions by making the switch.

All in all, the claim from NRDC is that America would save $18 billion a year by switching to fluorescent bulbs.

The savings might not be quite what they're made out to be, though. I've been unable to get the exact formula the NRDC and its partners are using to calculate their $4.50 per socket year savings estimate, but I'm suspicious, given that they keep talking about how incandescent bulbs waste energy by, in the words of the NRDC's Noah Horowitz, converting "95 percent of the incoming energy into wasted heat."

But is that heat really wasted? On a cold winter's night, my house is ablaze with incandescent light bulbs. Imagine all the heat they're emitting. Now imagine taking it all away. Obviously, my furnace is going to have to work harder to keep the house warm. In hot weather, to be sure, light bulb heat works against air conditioning efficiency, but long summer daylight hours mean there's much less use of lighting then - and most of that is at night, when temperatures are at least to some extent cooler, and the air conditioners may be off.

The point is, you've got to do some real math to get the true picture, and however it all comes out, there's bound to be an offset that has to be put into the savings equation.

In truth, it's not necessarily wasted even if it's not utilized to keep our skins warm -- because it keeps our minds warm, too. There is an aesthetic value to incandescent light, and the word that has always been used for it is "warm" - as in "giving off heat."

Whatever you think of the art of Thomas Kinkade, all those paintings of twilight houses, inviting and warm, feature his special talent for translating the color of incandescent light into paint. Put fluorescents in those cozy cottages and the color changes completely. Painted that way, Kinkade wouldn't sell enough pictures to pay his electric bill, even the reduced one he'll have once he replaces all his old bulbs.

You could reasonably save a few bucks by putting fluorescents in your garage, perhaps your laundry room. But in the dining room, or - heaven forbid - bedroom, I'm telling you, it's not worth it.


Categories:

64 Comments

CF Bulbs
Same old stupid government BS as the 1.6 gallon flush toilet you have to flush twice.

Who are these idiots who actually think they are going to tell me what kind of light bulb to use? We tried them and my wife absolutely hates them to the point she banned them except outdoors. So like all good government nowdays, if it sucks then force it on the hapless publc anyway.

Hail Ceasar...

Truth verses Fictionism Does long term Florese..damage your eyes?
What needs to be brought to public attention is the dangers of constant floresense light to the eyes.

I use to work in an complex that had bright floresense lights in all work areas. These was brighter than those made currently for homes. But, the fact remains. I started having vision problems after working these conditions for three years.

Also, started having night vision problems with seeing where the road meets the ditch when there was not enough color difference between dead grass and same color about of pavement.

Only, when I started making sure that I had plenty of regular sun shine as my daily activity did my vision correct itself to some degree enough to safely drive night again.

What remains to be SEEN(pun intended), is how much damage has already happen and to what extent? Did I hear the phone ring? Must be another lawyer.

just another phoney issue
Good article about this issue that's as phoney as the other ethanol story. It's just another feel good fluff measure to make liberals look mor virtuous. It will probably be really embarassing too when everybody soon starts getting those LED lites, like the blue ones you see on car headlites already. Over here in asian they're know for putting naked flourescent bulds all over the place, even in restaurants, etc. Then when you see a bar or restaurant that looks cozy, with incandescents indirect lites; you know it's a western run place.

Lame arguments
The author gives it his best shot: "But is that heat really wasted? On a cold winter's night, my house is ablaze with incandescent light bulbs. Imagine all the heat they're emitting. Now imagine taking it all away. Obviously, my furnace is going to have to work harder to keep the house warm. In hot weather, to be sure, light bulb heat works against air conditioning efficiency, but long summer daylight hours mean there's much less use of lighting then - and most of that is at night, when temperatures are at least to some extent cooler, and the air conditioners may be off."

Yes, the heat is wasted. Every heating engineer will tell you the most expensive heat is electric/ incandescent. So if your heat pump is taking a breather because your filament bulbs are doing all the work, you're throwing your money out the window. You might want to look this up.

Also about DST-- do you really think we have fewer dark hours than we do on standard time? There's no savings. When it's hot we keep the AC on all night, so we can get some sleep. And when we get up in the dark? We turn on a light.

Incandescent bulbs make good heat lamps. And they burn with a yellower light than the cool white CFs do. So buy them if you want those qualities, otherwise save your money.

Here's a pretty good comparison between standard bulbs, CFs and LEDs:

http://www.eartheasy.com/live_energyeff_lighting.htm

Two significant problems
Flicker is a serious problem, leading to eye strain, headaches and vision problems. The manufacturers are working on it. But we don't know whether it can be totally eliminated.

A related problem is harmonic distortion to your electric current. These bulbs interfere with television reception and computer performance. So do my paper shredder and electric razor.

It may very well be that LEDs end up having more good qualities on balance. We'll have to wait and see. Old fashioned bulbs seem to be out of the running, however.

Here's some good info:

http://irc.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/pubs/cp/lig3_e.html

My Experience With Light Bulbs
It should be up to the consumer to determine which kind of light bulbs to buy. This is one consumers experience:

My Choice:
Use fluorescent bulbs in fixtures that are on for long periods of time, and incandesant bulbs in minimal use fixtures. I have spent about 60 dollars so far on replacement fluorescent bulbs when a new bulb was needed. I have been using fluorescents for about 6 months now.

My Results:
My year-over-year electric bill is down about 40 dollars per month.

After 6 months, my decision has netted about 180 dollars [(6*40)-60]. Even better, I will not need to replace any fluorescent bulbs for many years, and the monthly saving will keep on piling up.

If other consumers have different priorities, then live and let live. In any event, if the government can madate what light bulbs we should purchase, then all purchases can be subjected to government mandates. This amounts to slavery...and is definitely not "worth it".

Solutions
taBonfils... I adopted the same approach some time ago, but have not quantified the cost/benefits. Overall, my electric bill has been going up due to the added costs of my utility's subsidy to members' alternative energy generation. Nevertheless, I'm sure I'm saving some money in the long run. On the other hand, I got a real kick out of the goofy Aussies who recently exercised and celebrated an "offing" of electric lights to highlight the imminent catastrophe of global warming. Mandate limited power usage and the celebratory mood will become exceedingly dour and will almost certainly lead to civil strife and the felling of governments and economies. But, of course, convictions are weak and if anyone on this board truly believed that we are headed for climate catastrophe, they would log-off and shut their computer down right now. Can't use some alternative form of energy either, since that form (whatever) still requires mining, smelting, and refining many tons of ore to manufacture the earthmoving machinery and milling equipment, let alone the products with which PVCs, windmills, ethonal, or whatever are composed of to get the power to you. Therefore, I contend that this is another case of the evidence being fixed to support the policy -- sound familiar?

What? Still here? Haven't shut down yet to save the Earth? Okay then, for those who are burdened with the guilt of their own comfort, I will offer a solution. I call it Resource Guilt Offsets:

I own or control over 10,000 acres of mining claims in pristine wilderness locations in Alaska. Over the next 40 years, I intend to extract gold, copper, lead, zinc, antimony, and tungsten from these claims. Further, I intend to stake an equivalent amount of acreage (or more) during that time to add to my resource base. I will make a compact with members of the public to not mine this ground for the amount of $1,000 per acre. Believe me, this is a terrific deal. I will be spending much more money (and energy) than this to mine the ground with no guarantee of profit. In fact, I will quitclaim the purchased mineral rights to you, an acre at a time, so that you will have 100% control over the mineral rights. For the budget minded, I will not stake additional mining claims for the amount of just $100 per acre. This is a remarkable deal for the guilt-ridden western psyche. This could be the most altruistic thing that you ever do -- legally and ethically prevent mining, prevent the addition of extracted minerals into the refining/manufacturing stream, and prevent your neighbor from benefitting from my sweat and blood. The cost/benefit calculation is clear. You can turn your miserable job into cash and then convert it to reserved wilderness in order to save the world. Well, not the Third World, anyway. Reality is, extractive/refining industries that are regulated or otherwise driven out of your backyard (or mine) simply move overseas to your destitutely poor neighbor's front yard. I suppose this exemplifies the total disconnect that contemporary ecopalyptics exert upon the rest of us.

Still haven't turned off your computer forever? Didn't think you would.

Better, faster and cheaper...
Technology is supposed to deliver substantial advances. However, democracy is supposed to make us free.

Here, again, we have central government telling us what to spend our money on and how to organize our most basic acts of daily life.

Soon it will be illegal to burn candles without a special permit because so much of the stored up energy is released as heat, versus light. And the carbon dioxide!

I am certain that oil lamps in the house gave a certain sort of warmth and a special glow that was comforting. Fireplaces are terrific in this regard. People will decide what they prefer and it really should be left to us.

Honestly. Doesn't the word totalitarian mean anything to us? Do we really want to have written rules (and vigorous enforcement) for everything?

We recently read about a family who no longer use toilet paper. For environmental reasons. Can a law regulating the use of bathroom tissue not be just over the horizon?

Sorry, you are wrong
"Yes, the heat is wasted. Every heating engineer will tell you the most expensive heat is electric/ incandescent."

These two sentences have nothing to do with each other. As the author (and I) have pointed out to you in the past, the heat is not wasted because lighting tends to be used during the coolest parts of the day (when it's dark). If the heat component is used to defer furnace activation, then it's not wasted. The second sentence is true, but irrelevant, because the heating component comes as an economically free benefit (you are paying for light, not heat).

No, Roy...
...the heat is NOT wasted. Some portion of it may be, but not ALL of it. Yes, heat pumps are more efficient than filament heat, but the heat pump DOES work less, so there is a compensatory savings.

Furthermore, incandescent puts off much more infrared than does flourescent, and that makes you FEEL warmer beyond just the temperature, as it actually heats up your skin.

Finally, I find that incandescent lights are MUCH better for reading than the flourescent lights, although even those are greatly improved over what was available a decade ago.

But the real issue is that the govmt should NOT be forcing us into one solution or the other. We have the right to choose our own light bulbs, for goodness sakes!

-Bob

not always the best choice
mr bean, here is data from the website you cited:

Although CFL's are an excellent source of energy-efficient lighting, they are not always the best choice for all lighting applications. Here are a few limitations to consider:
On/Off cycling: CFL's are sensitive to frequent on/off cycling. Their rated lifetimes of 10,000 hours are reduced in applications where the light is switched on and off very often.

....

this explains why my reading light, which was CFL, did not last appreciably longer than the incandescent.

You just never give up
Sorry, your insight is still deficient. A: During the cooling season, the heat produced by a standard bulb is doubly expensive, making your AC work overtime and costing money in itself, and unwanted.

B: During the mid season, when neither heat nor air are on, the bulbs produce expensive and unnecessary waste heat.

C: And during the heating season, you can use the heat. But you are paying more for it than you would be paying just to rely on your furnace. It is, again, the most expensive form of heat.

Conclusion: In every season, it costs you more money.

The reasoning you display in thinking this through is rife with error. In using more electricity with standard bulbs, you spend more money. How much goes toward light and how much toward an often undesirable heat is unimportant. You spend more money while using more electricity.

Read the sources again. The ONLY use that repays itself is when using the bulb as a heat lamp.

Common Misconception
"Unlike most businesses, utility companies don't actually want to grow their industry. Guaranteed a profit by the state regulatory commissions, they're in the unusual position of being able to dispense with all the fuss and bother of increasing sales and expanding production."

Utility profits are regulated as a % return on ratebase (net physical assets in service). Therefore, more investment yields more profit.

Utilities are granted an allowed rate of return in regulatory proceedings. This return is NOT guaranteed. Reduced energy consumption resulting from economic slowdowns or mild weather reduce sales and the return (in both $ and % terms).

Forgotten auto pay raise
Isn't funny(not) that everytime the cost goes up for many utilities that the [cost recovery fee] goes up; yet when it goes down the cost, the recovery is slower about going down.

I seen in the news a while back about a utility having a large class action suit against it because of not balancing the difference.
Give thanks that these utilities do not get the break [insurance co-ops] get in reduce suit amounts now in law. Rest assured their next, the utilits.

Filament of Amalgamation
I thought I was just confused, I couldn't believe our great and learned legislative bodies would stoop to diddle in light bulbs.

What I thought to be a figment of my imagination is truly a filament of amalgamation.

Not to worry though, you'll have the same light with only 1/3rd of the freedom!

Your knowledge of utility ratemaking...
is comparable to your "command" of the English language and its grammar.

Scraping the bottom of the argument barrel
This is just quibbling. When it's 90 degrees and your AC is pumping at peak capacity, the heat from your bulb is wasted. And when it's 20 degrees and your furnace is working overtime, it's still providing cheaper heat to you than is your light bulb.

You could burn up the books in your library, and they also would provide heat. A good plan? Some would say not.

"Yes, heat pumps are more efficient than filament heat, but the heat pump DOES work less, so there is a compensatory savings."

I've been trying to figure out what this means, and have decided it just doesn't mean anything. Tell you what. Move to Minnesota, take out your furnace and put a thousand filament bulbs in your home. After the spring thaw, tell me what your electric bill looked like. Then tell me how comfy you were. Furnace heat's going to win, on both comfort and cost.

We pay good money for all this government...
This is, indeed, the finest government that money can buy. Nevertheless, I would really rather just do what my father told me.

Your knowledge of what is written on utility bills in this area is nonexisting
On our billing it states:

Cost adjustment: The amount is five times the actual rate when you figure it by calulation.

When you ask the utility to explain what plain english 'cost adjustment is?' We are told the difference from the actual cost to get it to your home to what the then base rate is.

The base rate or amount is five times less than the cost adjustment rate. For somewhat example:
Base amount is 11.36
Cost adjustment is 61.43

Before the legislative acts dealing with the branch that regulates this allowed the cost adjustment to be auto built in. The above charge of 72.79 would of been about thirty bucks cheaper. About I said.

Like I said; It is a recovery added cost to recover the difference of what the charge would of been to what they say it actually cost. Some where down the road someone will have to check them out to see if they charge us right or cheated us. One such suit is already in action or about to be.

As far as my grammer goes. I do not care. I have college engineers come to me to help them fix problems because they are book smart and not repair smart. Speaking about whom and what not you know shows.

You just can't deal with facts
"But you are paying more for it than you would be paying just to rely on your furnace."

Wrong.

You are paying nothing for it, because you are absorbing all the cost for lighting purposes.

"The reasoning you display in thinking this through is rife with error. In using more electricity with standard bulbs, you spend more money. How much goes toward light and how much toward an often undesirable heat is unimportant. You spend more money while using more electricity."

More ignorance. At no time have I ever said that standard bulbs have a lower lifetime operating cost that CF. What I have said is that there are secondary effects that diminish the economic advantage because the savings do not calculate the heat effects, both for and against.

Why do you persist in misrepresenting what I have written on this subject?

Fighting over a dry bone
Your stubbornness is unprecedented, even for this place.

"You are paying nothing for it, because you are absorbing all the cost for lighting purposes."

No. Clearly you pay more to light with incandescent than you do with CF. The difference in price is the premium you pay for incandescent. If you like the warmth from the bulb, or you like the quality of the light itself, that's worth it to you. Buy a standard bulb. But understand you are paying more for the privilege.

This is true in winter. It is true in summer. It is also true in the spring and in the fall.

Wait, there's more
Let's address this:

"What I have said is that there are secondary effects that diminish the economic advantage because the savings do not calculate the heat effects, both for and against."

You're implying that when you factor in the cost of heating with light bulbs, you're saving money over heating with gas, oil, heat pump, logs or lumps of coal.

Take us through the calculation. Our example is a house in Minnesota, heated with nothing but an appropriate number of light bulbs. How do you anticipate the experiment will cost out?

What is the cost ?
There are couple considerations. First what is the total cost to manufacture and dispose of the CF bulbs. I suspect to costs more to manufacture the CF bulbs. I can just throw the incandesent bulb in the trash. Because of the mercury in the CF bulb, I have to pay more to dispose of it. I also will have to change a number of light fixtures so they can use CF bulbs.

Then there is the cost of the flicker on my eyes ? On my computer I can adjust the hertz from 60 to some other number. This changes the flicker so it doesn't bother my eyes and give me a headache. I can't do that with a CF bulb.

I don't use CF bulbs where I have to do any reading.

Wrong
"Clearly you pay more to light with incandescent than you do with CF."

Only true if you have the installation long enough for the lower operating cost to offset the higher capital cost.

As to stubbornness, it's the natural response to blind ignorance.

Think of it this way
In the first instance you have a IC which costs say 10 cents a week to provide lighting.

In the second case you have a CF which costs say 2 cents to provide lighting.

In both cases you pay for these costs purely for lighting reasons which on first line analysis gives you an 8 cent cost advantage per week.

Now, in the case of the IC, say it gives you on average an additional burden of say 2 cents additional heat/week to be paid for in extra load on the air conditioner during summer and say 2 cents of reduced heating load/week from the furnace during winter. So in this crude example, the cost operating advantage of the CF is not 8 cents but 7 cents. Pursuing this, the heating advantage or disadvantage will be heavily affected by the amount of time during a year that the furnace is on relative to the amount of time the airconditioner is on. There's a huge difference between Anchorage and Miami. Since the furnace is used in cold regions about three to five times as much as the air conditioner the heating value would outweigh the heating penalty. The reverse is true for the subtropical regions of the US where the heating would function as a net penalty not as a net asset.

The final variable is diurnal variation. Furnaces tend to run more at night when lights are on and air conditioners by day when lights are off.

Only when you take these kinds of effects into account can you know truly what the energy advantage of one kind of technology is over another.

Additional CF problems
One thing I don't like about Compact Florescents is that they take time to fully illuminate. They are only about half as bright when you first turn them on and take 3-5 minutes to come up to full brightness. In some applications (like a utility closet), I want instant light so I can get my stuff and then immediately turn it off again.

I bet I'd get 2X the supposed savings of converting to CFs by just installing sensors in half the rooms in our house that automatically turn on the incandescent bulbs when you enter and then turn them off again a couple of minutes after you leave. (that doesn't work so well in rooms where you sit still for any length of time, though)

All that said, though, I do have CFs installed in my kitchen and other commonly used rooms where this isn't a problem. And my halogen undercabinet lighting "warms" the light to offset the sickly blue hue from the CFs.

Also, the claim that they last 8-10 times longer isn't fool-proof. I've had several of those expensive pretzels wink out after a couple of months! Arrrrgh.

More and more outlandish
You are a blooming idiot. At the North Pole, incandescent is the most expensive way to deliver heat. At the equator, it's still the same. At midnight, incandescent costs more. At noon it also costs more. ANY of your electric bill that goes into heating your house by incandescent, any time, any where, represents an inefficiency.

That inefficiency can be corrected by using another type of bulb. You know that, and I know you know that. You just can't stand not having the last word.

And you
are an illiterate twit incapable of understanding complex systems. The only bulb you understand is your own and its very, very dim.

Looking at it your way
Okay, let's take your real world example.

One 100 watt bulb uses 0.1 kW of electricity. So if you burn it a thousand hours a year that's 100 kWh you've used. At local rates, one kWh costs me 15.875 cents. So burning that one 100 watt bulb at an average 3 hours a day, 1000 hrs/year, would cost me $15.87. Let's call it $16.

With a compact fluorescent I can get just as much light from a bulb that pulls only 25 kW. So the same amount of light costs me only $4. For the year.

The remainder, $12, is being spent on heat, whether I need it or not. An eighth grader could figure out that he's losing money this way. He can see he's spending three times as much money on heat, when all he wants is light.

Capital outlay? $1.65 for one new 25 watt CF bulb. So it amortises during the first six or seven weeks (ask me how I know this). After that you're making money.

I used to run amortisation analyses for energy systems before I retired. But I'm not claiming special expertise. This is math anyone should be able to do for themselves.

Roy - Obviously not an Engineer
And either are the stupid pols that think they can tell me what my best lighting options should be. Geeze.

The author is correct in his assesment of this issue. If you had an engineering background you would know how to assess the heat load in any given space. Everything contributes to heat load in a room. The bulbs, computers, people, etc. The HVAC system may contribute the most (as it should) but these other sources of heat are more significant than you would think. The heat given off by the bulb will cause the HVAC to come on less. That is a fact. Perhaps a little more when the AC is running.

So the energy savings probably is not as high as the pols would have you believe.

Roy, you're wrong
RE: "ANY of your electric bill that goes into heating your house by incandescent, any time, any where, represents an inefficiency"

"Any time, any where" is flat out wrong.

Electricity in Fairport, NY (and 42 other NY municipalities) is 100% hydroelectic, and is cheaper than gas or oil.
During the heating season, which is most of the year in upstate NY, any savings in electricity through improved efficiency will be more than offset by the increased gas or oil costs.
But forget about the cost. The intent of the light bulb switch is to save resources. Converting hydroelectic demand to gas or oil demand would actually increase resource usage.

Resistance heating
I think you're barking up the wrong tree. You seem to be comparing the cost of providing electricity to subscribers, as opposed to gas or oil. I'm comparing costs out of pocket from the POV of the consumer. And since we don't have any bulbs that run on gas or oil, I can only compare the performance of various kinds of bulbs that are electrically powered.

You're telling me that in your area it's cheaper to heat by resistance heating than it is by either gas or oil. I'd like to see a reference on that. A heat pump? Quite possibly. But a heat pump doesn't run by resistance heat except when it's in the recovery mode.

Ask your local heat pump mechanic what that's costing you. Resistance heating is the most expensive-- and that's the kind that compares to heating with filament bulbs.

I run a heat pump myself. It's as efficient as gas and the prices are more stable. Gas has disturbing price fluctuations. But my efficiency is far better than if I had an old fashioned "electric furnace"... which is what an incandescent bulb is.

electricity cost
I'm talking about utility bills. Residential electric rate in Fairport is 3.5 cents per KWH, Industrial is 1.9 (you can verify that at http://www.nypa.gov/Partners/fairport.htm).
Even with resistance heat, that's cheaper than heating with gas or oil. If you're paying 15.875 /KWH, do the math on what your heat pump would be costing you at 3.5 /KWH
My particular house is heated with a heat pump (built in 1980, the year NYS banned both gas and oil in new construction). Most people around here heat with gas, and too many of the 1980 full electric houses were resistance heat.

Cheap electricity
You're getting a heck of a nice break on juice. If my bills went down to 20% of what they are now I'd only be paying $20 a month for winter heat.

So let's imagine you live in a place where electricity only costs one cent per kWh. Heating with standard bulbs would still cost you more than heating with a heat pump. But they would be cheaper than heating with #2 oil.

So I have an idea. Shut off your furnace and calculate how many 100 watt bulbs it would take to equal its output-- say, a 2-1/2 ton unit. Then hook them up throughout the house and wire this array to your thermostat.

Considering that by your calculations you're saving money this way, why not do it? You could try it out next winter.

As a bonus, the extra light would prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder. :)

Roy can't concede even an inch, can he?
Beaner -- why can't you concede that the heat from the incandescent bulbs isn't totally wasted for at least 5 months out of the year (longer in NY)?

Why? Are you just that stubborn?

Geez, give it a rest already. The columnist's point was valid and you just can't accept it.

Beaner, why do you care what bulbs any of us use? Who made you king?
Beaner, you can justify your infatuation with CF bulbs and downplay their significant higher cost (and mercury threat, too), but I've gotta ask: Why do you care what any of us do?

What business is it of yours or the gov'mint's what bulb we choose to use?

Land of the Free? Apparently not for long. But heaven forbid we continue to ban pot, cocaine, etc.

As Ben Franklin said: Don't Tread On Me!

Why it's cheap
As far as using light bulbs instead of a furnace, that's pretty much what baseboard electric is (except it doesn't give off much light).
Personally, I'll stick with the heat pump.
A little history on why we have cheap power. In the mid 50's, the hydro plant at Niagra Falls collapsed into the river. New York State, in its infinite wisdom, decided it didn't need to be rebuilt. 43 municipalities begged to differ, and the power authority agreed to build a new plant as long as these 43 municipalities footed the entire bill. Through 1980, we paid artificially high electric rates to pay off the bonds (I'll bet you don't concider 2.2 cents/KWH high, but hydro is dirt cheap). Once the bonds were paid off NYS thanked us for building the plant by slapping us with a 150% 'nuclear' surcharge for the power we used over the contractual agreement. But our power usage was not over the contracted amount, so we sued and won. Part of the settlement was that we now get hit with an ever bigger 'just because we can' surcharge.

So...
This like the difference between choosing to drink hot water or hot tea in the morning. Either will provide the fluids necessary for the body to function, but only one will provide the additional benefit of pleasure.

What. Not One Taker?
Buncha eco-chickenhawks!

A reasonable question
"Beaner, you can justify your infatuation with CF bulbs and downplay their significant higher cost (and mercury threat, too), but I've gotta ask: Why do you care what any of us do?"

This is a perfectly good question to ask, AA. And the answer is... I don't. Not in the slightest. If Congress enacts a nationwide ban on standard bulbs I might decide to import them from Brazil, and sell them to you at a slight markup.

I like the light from those old style bulbs myself. All I'm commenting on is the stubborn insistence on the part of a great many people here that they are not more costly to use... less energy efficient.

See, I'm just having a little fun with the pointy heads in this crowd. I've discovered that if I say the sky is blue, a host of harpies will pop up telling me I'm wrong, it's really yellow. And all I'm doing is asking them to prove it.

The only person who has done even a halfway decent job of this is TomB, below, living in upstate New York in a locale that has unusually low rates for electricity. I would be willing to believe he can possibly heat and light his home through the use of standard bulbs, as opposed to heating with high priced oil and lighting with CF bulbs. And I have asked him to clinch his argument by taking out his boiler, filling the house with light bulbs hooked to his thermostat, and trying it next winter.

Everyone else's arguments are falling far behind his. Standard bulbs cost more to operate. End of sentence.

Pleasure
Right. When I want pleasure, I turn on my strobe light and my lava lamp. Costs a little more, but they're so worth it.

An engineer weighs in
So what you're saying, then-- as an engineer-- is that running standard bulbs will help with your heat bill.

And if one bulb gives more efficient heat than your furnace, then fifty of them will give an even greater savings. Right?

Assuming that 95% of the energy that goes into lighting up the filament results in heat being given off, not light, you are first admitting that the kW hours you purchase to light your bulb are primarily going toward heat. And saying that it's an efficient way of converting electricity to heat.

Or, question the 95%. Maybe it's just 80%. Same comment.

And secondly, you're ignoring the fact that you switch your lights on generally when you want light, not heat. Otherwise you'd wire your lights to the thermostat.

So in summer you're not losing money while heating your house with filament bulbs. And in winter you're making money by heating with them.

Thank god there's an engineer in the house.

Shedding more heat than light
Thanks for an interesting piece of history. So you've in essence been paying for part of your electric "at the pump" and the other part through taxes. Like so many things in modern life.

Guess how much we're paying for ethanol. It will boggle your mind when you add it all up.

BTW you won the prize for best comeback to my contention that there is NEVER an instance where it doesn't pay to light your home with CF (or LED) and heat by anything but resistance electric heat, as opposed to heating and lighting with filament bulbs. I agree you're probably saving money to scrap that old #2 oil boiler and put in heat lamps.

Of course on those chilly nights, of which you probably have a few, you should tape a bag over your head so the light doesn't keep you up. Maybe they'll invent a filament bulb that gives off no "waste light". :)

Nope... no can do
I guess you haven't actually been reading my comments. I never said the heat from a filament bulb is totally wasted. In winter, when the thermostat is calling for heat, this coincidental heat is helpful-- although expensive.

In spring, summer and fall it's counterproductive.

It's cheaper to light your house with CF, both in dollars and in kWh. And in my area, for example, the initial cost of the bulb repays itself in six or seven weeks. But if you prefer the light from a filament bulb, or just the idea of it, I guess it's worth the extra money you pay.

Finally, "The columnist's point was valid and you just can't accept it."

The columnist's point, I believe, was this:

"The incandescent light bulb, it appears, is on the way out, and everyone is going to save a lot of money as a result.

"I'm telling you, it's not worth it."

By my own calculations, if your object is to save money and/or electricity, making the switch is worth it. But if your object is just to gripe about governmental controls, no cost is too high to pay. In fact you could probably find a contractor who could take you back to gas lighting.

Ok, then . . .
Well, we'll have to disagree on who's being the "pointy head" then. There's another, less PC term for that Beaner, but I'll spare you.

This is what I hate about these forums, some just like to be "insert less PC term here".

Cheers,
AA

To much freedom!
That's the whole problem with children in government offices, the average work place, society in general.

Like children given to much freedom for to long a time period, they the adult children become lazy of their duties and responsibilities, and someone else has to take up the total disregard for responsibility.

But, Only society can handle this for so long until the population of non-responsible adult children over weighs the responsible ones and the country collapses, Which is where America is headed with its non-reponsible class of workers and non workers like the rest of the world.

Still have not figured out what this thread is saying? Everything from a to z of all types of jobs, duties in the home and outside the home=everything including recycle of toxic and non-toxic products. To much freedom..
Because with freedom comes more responsibility and the ones that should are not carrying their load.

You want to know cost/? Or how much you save/?
I changed every single bulb causing heat in our home to the little pigtail looking bulbs, Mini-flores bulbs.

This was a total of only fourteen bulbs that we use almost constantly. We have many more lights but they are used only when company comes. Since most of our family is in the relaxing yrs of retirement, company comes less, so the other lights stay not used mostly.

With only fourteen bulbs our total bill dropped about thirty bucks a month. What is that times twelve months. I bought the ones that have the 7 yr warrantry. I have used them since 2002. Think how much I have saved in electricity and not buying junk bulbs every month or two. Here is the figure in just electricity. For 2oo2 thru 2oo6 is four yrs times about thirty bucks. Each year is 12 times 30.
$360.00 times 4 is about 1,440.00 saved. Now go buy you some pig tail bulbs as I call them from your home supply store, and demand the 7yr warrantry type. They are more white light if you do not like the yellow tint lights called soft white.

During this time frame shown above, I have only had to call in about four or five times on the warrantry. The place I buy from sends a free replacement by snail mail when you phone it in.

One more time
The whole purpose of banning incandescent bulbs is to reduce carbon emissions by reducing burning of fossil fuels, and lower utility bills is being advertised as a side benefit.
My point was that this is not universally true. There are locations where just the opposite will happen.
Nearly 100% of all electricity used in the home ends up as heat. During the heating season, the heat given off by electrical devices in your home is heat that the furnace does not need to supply. Any improved efficiency in your electrical devices will result in less of your heat being supplied by those devices, and more of it being supplied by your furnace.
If your electricity generation is 100% "green" but your furnace runs on fossil fuel, then switching to more efficient light bulbs will result in increased fossil fuel usage during the heating season, and no change in fossil fuel usage during the air conditioning season.
If your electric rate is low enough, not only will the switch result in increased fossil fuel usage, it will also result in higher utility bills.
As to the "at the pump" vs. "through taxes", utility surcharges are buried in the rate (same as gasoline taxes), so that the consumer is less aware of just how high the taxes are. Yes, 3.5 cents/KWH is the total rate including surcharges.
As to efficiencies, at point of use (so we don't get into efficiencies at the power plant), resistance electric heat is more efficient than gas or oil, heat pumps are far more efficient. By the definition of efficiency used by gas and oil companies, resistive electric heat is 100% efficient, a heat pump is around 130% efficient.
As to a filament bulb that gives off no waste light, that's what resistance heat is, and that's what my backup furnace uses (again, 100% efficient, better than gas or oil, cheaper than gas or oil).

Tubular skylights...
...great for natural light.

Roy - Still Obviously not an Engineer
"So what you're saying, then-- as an engineer-- is that running standard bulbs will help with your heat bill."
Yes. That doesn't mean it lowers your total utility bills, but it is a partial offset being ignored in the calculations.
"And if one bulb gives more efficient heat than your furnace, then fifty of them will give an even greater savings. Right?"
No, efficiency and savings are different topics. If one light bulb is more efficient than your furnace, than 50 light bulbs are also more efficient than your furnace, but the cost depends on your utility rates.
"Assuming that 95% of the energy that goes into lighting up the filament results in heat being given off, not light, you are first admitting that the kW hours you purchase to light your bulb are primarily going toward heat. And saying that it's an efficient way of converting electricity to heat."
Yes, it is a very efficient way to generate heat. Any of the light that doesn't escape the house is also converted back to heat. So the efficiency is actually close to 100%, which is higher than the efficiencies on gas or oil furnaces. But, again, we're talking efficiency, not cost.
"So in summer you're not losing money while heating your house with filament bulbs. And in winter you're making money by heating with them."
No. In both the winter and summer we are not losing as much money as we are being told. Which part of "So the energy savings probably is not as high as the pols would have you believe" are you interpreting as "making money"?

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