How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb?

compact fluorescent bulbincandescent bulbThis is a joke (the title) that works rather well, while being a serious issue as well. It’s all about trying to reduce our energy waste here in California, and contribute to the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The idea is to change from the garden variety incandescent bulbs (see left) to the compact fluorescent ones (see right). It’s striking that more people don’t already use them. Ordinary bulbs (apparently 2 billion of them sold every year in the USA) convert only about 5 percent of the energy that they consume into light. The rest is just wasted heat.

For the same amount of light output, compact fluorescents use much less energy: A 25 Watt compact fluorescent gives about the same amount of light as a 75 Watt incandescent… and it lasts over 10 times longer. The technology has improved quite a bit too, so there’s none of that flickering, funny spectrum of colours, etc, that some of us remember from fluorescent lights when we were younger. It is a real alternative that is not being used. Old habits are hard to break.

California assemblyman Lloyd Levine is trying to introduce legislation (under the above name!) to phase out the use of the incandescent bulb in California (except in some special cases) by 2012. *Read more here, for example.) This is the same fellow who last year introduced legislation to get supermarkets to recycle plastic bags. This is clearly a guy who recognizes the value of taking a small thing and multiplying it by millions – or billions – to make a significant difference. I don’t know if this will work, but this is really good stuff to do indeed. I wish him (and us all) the best of luck.


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