NY Times: You Aren’t Buying CFLs Because You’re Stupid And Don’t Know Better

Here’s one from a few days ago (via Tom Nelson). Let’s go through the preamble before we get to the meat

YOU may have heard that the federal government wants to limit your choice of light bulbs, starting in January.

If only.

Thanks to regulations taking effect that month under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, shopping for light bulbs is fast becoming akin to choosing a spouse: the options are almost endless, and the object of your affection might last longer in the house than you.

See, that’s one of the problems with the “it’s not really a ban, per se, Congress just mandated certain conditions which pretty much exclude incandescent light bulbs from being manufactured and sold” law: it forces people to look at other bulbs, most of which people haven’t really used, and do not know what the light will be like. This is a big problem with CFLs, what kind of light will they put out? I recommend going to Lowe’s or Home Depot, and purchasing a few from different manufacturers that are the same wattage, and trying them out. Notice that the light quality varies. God help you if you do this with “daylight” type CFLs.

I’ve personally been through this with both. I prefer daylight bulbs. I find it easier to read with daylight bulbs. I prefer them in the bedroom for getting dressed. I used to be a big fan of CFLs due to their energy savings and low heat output (which is great for a hot place like Raleigh). It took me several attempts to find the best daylight CFLs, because the light was different with each one, and one that says it mimics a 60 watt doesn’t necessarily mimic….a 60 watt! Meaning I wasted a lot of money.

Now try that with incandescent. Do you even need to think about brand or wattage? You’re at the supermarket and pick up a replacement bulb: are you even concerned that it might be the wrong type? You know exactly how a daylight, frosted, bug repellent, clear, or other will act when you put it in the lamp and turn it on. Not so much with CFLs. And, do you really want to give it a whirl with a $30-$50 LED bulb? The NY Times’ article even describes just how damned difficult it is to pick a non-incandescent bulb, and how the light from them isn’t exactly what you think. But,

Their advice: In the short term, you can continue to light your home with incandescents. But in the long run, they say, if you study the various lighting technologies, you can save money and time – and, perhaps, see every part of your home in its best light.

For most people, who are accustomed to a simpler light-bulb market, that’s asking a lot.

“Consumers generally bring habit, rather than intelligence, to their light-bulb purchases,” Mr. Leslie said. “It’s really problematic.”

So, if your habit is to quickly grab any old incandescent of your favorite type while in the grocery store to replace the one that burned out (that you threw in the garbage without worrying about a hazmat team coming to visit) and knowing that you won’t have to worry about the light and/or wattage being wrong, then you’re just plain stupid.

Personally, I’d prefer not having to practice the scientific method when purchasing a freakin’ light bulb, or doing research like I’m buying a new computer.

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