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Incandescent Bulbs or Long-term Safety?

On July 12, 2011, the US congress had a hearing to repeal “the incandescent light bulb band” officially known as the Energy Independence and Security Act, that was signed into law in 2007. In the bill, lawmakers are phasing out the old incandescent light bulbs we have all grown up with (starting January 1, 2012) to make way for the newer energy efficient bulbs, by 2014. By doing this, congress is forcing us to move towards Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs), Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs, and other types of light bulbs that are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs that only utilize about 10% of the power use to produce light (most of the remainder power is transferred into heat).

Some consumers have complained about the light produced by CFLs and LED bulbs. They claim that neither of these bulbs gives off the “warm light” produced by the incandescent bulb. Also, many consumers complain about the time that it takes CFLs to reach full luminance, while others complain about the price of LED bulbs. These complaints have lead to consumers hoarding incandescent light bulbs and to a number of people protesting the government requiring the phase out.

I converted to the CFL bulbs more than 6 years ago when the bulbs were still expensive relative to the incandescent bulbs. Today, I barely notice the difference between the light produced by CFLs and incandescent bulbs. To me, the time it takes for CFLs to reach full illumination is negligible. However, the amount of my home energy bill has been reduced noticeably, to the point where I cannot see myself returning to incandescent bulbs.

Usually, I fall on the side of a free market. Therefore, I believe that the government should stick to making policies that promote fair play, rather than dictating what retailers should and should not sell. However, in this case, I feel the federal government is right, and I am elated to know that the repeal did not pass. My reasons for believing this go beyond saving money. For example, consider the amount of power being wasted to light a room with an incandescent bulb and the amount of oil necessary to give power to these millions of inefficient bulbs. As we try to move this country towards energy independence from countries that hate Americans, we have to keep sight of the big picture: decreasing overall consumption of oil, thereby lessening the country’s dependence on countries who may be funding terrorism. During World War II American were asked to conserve for the good of the country. It is time we consider doing it again. So, is it more important to have warm light or to be safe?

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