Friday, January 18, 2008

My Mini Fireplace

On cold nights like this, I appreciate the one incandescent light bulb left in my apartment that I use regularly. It's in the lamp next to my bed. It might as well be a mini-fireplace. You can feel the warmth even a few feet away.

The surface of an incandescent bulb can reach temperatures of 400 to 550 degrees, which is why they're used in situations where contained, local heating is needed, like chick incubators and Easy-Bake Ovens.

That's one reason compact fluorescent light bulbs are so much more efficient. They don't waste nearly as much energy by radiating heat, helping CFLs use less than a quarter of the electricity of an incandescent.

Yet here in the United States, incandescent bulbs still outnumber CFLs on store shelves. Even though CFLs will save many times their higher initial cost through electricity savings, people just grab the bulb that's the cheapest to purchase. There's also a great deal of inertia - people tend to stick with what they know and are reluctant to change.

It's remarkable that states or Congress haven't moved to follow Australia's example to ban incandescent bulbs altogether. It would save consumers money, reduce the burden on our energy grid, and cut our greenhouse gas emissions. What's the downside?
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