January 31, 2007

Ban incandescent lightbulbs?

This is a California idea. If I lived there and faced this ban, I'd buy my lightbulbs in another state. It's just too horrible to live in such an ugly glare. People who have no aesthetic sense don't understand how a limit like this affects people. I'd be happy to make up for it by turning off more lights or using dimmers.

Why don't you ban air conditioning?

32 comments:

William Timothy said...

I'm with Glenn Reynolds: Why not ban private jets or other specially chartered flights? Or limos?

We could add to this list: houses bigger than 3000 sq feet? (Think of the number of bulbs it takes to light those houses, not to figure the added a/c.) How 'bout multiple home ownership...

Its kind of fun to think how we can save the world thinking of things we could ban...

Harkonnendog said...

Ban using clothes dryers to dry towels on sunny days!

Liam Colvin said...

Good lord. Such sensitivity.

I sorta know something about light. I was an art student before I was a geek, and I used to balance my painting studio lights by mixing cool fluorescents with hi temp photo floods. That gave me accurate color balances.

The swirly bulbs are a bit cool, but are balanced with an overall yellow tone which is actually less pronounced than normal incandescent lights. You can get incandescent lights that have a pronounced blue tone, which are allegedly "easier on the eyes". Right.

All in all, the new swirlys are quite acceptable for just about all household use.

But then again, I’m not a goddess.

*sheesh*

Revenant said...

All in all, the new swirlys are quite acceptable for just about all household use..

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, the fluorescents look much worse than comparably-priced incandescents.

This is just another dippy proposed law from our gerrymandered legislators. In the unlikely event that it passes a referendum will re-legalize incandescents in 2008.

Peter Palladas said...

How many Californians does it take to change a lightbulb?

Just the one, but the lightbulb has to want to be changed.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder how much money the Legislator has received from the compact flourescent industry? (What? Me cynical and jaded?)

Better ideas for environmentalism, on top of those enumerated here: Ban Swimming Pool heaters. Ban more than one garbage bag per week.

MrsWhatsit said...

I don't think I'm particularly over-sensitive to light, I'm definitely not a goddess, and I know nothing about light, but I'm with Ann on this one -- I hate the light given off by the "new swirlies." It's cold and stark and ugly. We use them in hallways and closets and such, but not in living spaces and especially not in reading lamps.

Let's ban electric guitars instead. Or electric toothbrushes. Or electric can openers. Or all of those things!

Yikes! comment verification -- mrsjikci -- how did it know??

Simon said...

"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." This is their agenda, Ann, and it's not just about taxes. It's about controlling what you can and can't do, about micromanaging people's lives in pursuit of the common good.

ploopusgirl said...

It's always such a fine line between you and me, Althouse. I completely agree that banning incandescent bulbs is almost one of the dumbest things I've ever heard of. On the other hand, my mind doesn't instantly go to the "if only the peons below me were in tune with the aesthetic side of life, they wouldn't be suggesting such ridiculous legislation!" place. Why must yours?

Evil HR Lady said...

I love the idea of banning private jets and limos. Heh.

johnstodder said...

I'm not so down on this idea. It would be better if the changeover was voluntary, but at the same time, nobody is really aware of how much energy is being consumed by the different electric items in their homes.

California is still facing an energy crisis. More and more of the power plants run on natural gas, which is growing scarcer and more expensive. Nobody wants an LNG terminal for imported natural gas anywhere near their part of the coast (although, NIMBYs that we are, we're building one off Baja!) "Alternative fuels," which will be mandated for all California's utilities, will prove to be, in the end, only a marginal contributor--popular showcases, but only helpful on peak-usage days.

At the end of the day, conservation is the only rational, politically supportable, pathway in this state. In that context, the compact-flourescent is a powerhouse.

Sloanasaurus said...

In the unlikely event that it passes a referendum will re-legalize incandescents in 2008.

Funny stuff!

Althouse would definately be risking her liberty by defying the ban on light bulbs. All her neighbors would draw their shades as she was pulled out of her house and sent off to re-education camp.

The global warming issue is the best potential to result in civil war since slavery. One side believes that the other side is evil and is destroying the planet They are willing to thus pass draconian laws to wholly change American life for the other side. Once the laws are passed, the war begins.

Sloanasaurus said...

In the unlikely event that it passes a referendum will re-legalize incandescents in 2008.

Funny stuff!

Althouse would definately be risking her liberty by defying the ban on light bulbs. All her neighbors would draw their shades as she was pulled out of her house and sent off to re-education camp.

The global warming issue is the best potential to result in civil war since slavery. One side believes that the other side is evil and is destroying the planet They are willing to thus pass draconian laws to wholly change American life for the other side. Once the laws are passed, the war begins.

Palladian said...

It's not just the color of fluorescent light bulbs, but the fact that they flicker. The flicker is caused by the frequency of the electrical charge that creates the light and is supposedly undetectable by the human eye. But it actually really bothers me, to the point that I cannot stand to be in rooms with large amounts of fluorescent tubes. I'm also quite sensitive to bright light, and fluorescent lights tend to over-illuminate rooms. I tried out several color temperatures of compact fluorescent bulbs but I didn't like any of them.

The other thing that they don't tell you is that fluorescent bulbs are full of mercury. Mercury! What kind of environmentalists advocate a huge increase in mercury production?!

This is so stupid an idea that I'm surprised that the New York City council didn't think of it first.

Theo Boehm said...

I'm in favor of banning everything that didn't exist in the 17th century.

Failing that, you can read this interesting discussion about CFL's earlier in January over on Megan McArdle's blogHere is the link to the comments on the second part, where I told the tale of changing all the lights in our house to CFL's.

If you don't want to follow the link and wade through the comments, here is the executive summary of our experience with compact flourescents:

They suck.

In addition to almost burning the house down with the cheesy magnetic ballast units I bought for the basement, my wife had an Althousian reaction to the glare/color, compounded by migraines induced by the flicker.  My wife had almost three months of straight migraines after I installed the CFL's.  You really don't want to know what that was like.

We found most indoor units only lasted about three times as long as the incandescents they replaced, NOT the 10,000 hours advertised.  Outdoor units last forever, but heat, even modest heat, degrades inside lights.  I spent hundreds of dollars on the damn things, and they were all shot within a year and a half.  They have been proven in our experience to be LESS economical than the incandescents they replace.

I also wonder about the energy budget to manufacture them.  They are obviously more resource- and energy-intensive to make than incandescents, and if they die within a year, we have a lot more chunks of plastic, glass, wire, and toxic chemicals to dispose of than we otherwise might.

There was a good semi-technical discussion of color, flicker, etc. in the comments in the above link, but I won't try to summarize it.  Suffice it to say that CFL's are "capable of improvement."  Perhaps they're better today, but I'm unwilling to find out.

Being a gadget sucker, I'm all eager to try the new LED bulbs.  My wife says that if they resemble the CFL's in any way, she will personally tear each and every one of them out and put them through my coffee grinder.

SteveR said...

I have a hard time seeing a string of fluorescent bulbs around the Christmas tree. Then again maybe you can't celebrate Christmas in CA.

Palladian is right about the mercury although manufacturers are getting away from it.

Give all the other "optional" energy uses around (private jets and limos.. one for Randy, one for Paula, one for Simon and one for Ryan) this is nothing but a feel good idea and a stupid one at that.

Theo Boehm said...

Oops! The last link in my comments above doesn't work. But it's OK. The previous link covers both the blog post and associated comments, so you'll see everything I was trying to send you to.

ginabina said...

It's not just the color of fluorescent light bulbs, but the fact that they flicker. The flicker is caused by the frequency of the electrical charge that creates the light and is supposedly undetectable by the human eye. But it actually really bothers me, to the point that I cannot stand to be in rooms with large amounts of fluorescent tubes.
~~~

Me too! I put compact flourescent bulbs in my living room and they drive me crazy! I have them in the center fixture and have to turn on the incandescent over the fireplace to balance them out.

As long as I have both on, I'm fine. We've started using CFs in rooms that we don't spend tons of time relaxing or working in, like the laundry room and closets.

vbspurs said...

Ooh! Kah-lee-four-nya referendum time again!

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

William wrote:

Its kind of fun to think how we can save the world thinking of things we could ban...

Not just save the world, William. Save the world, and LOOK good in the fitting room.

That's got Hollywood written all over it.

MrsWhatsit wrote:

Yikes! comment verification -- mrsjikci -- how did it know??

LOL!

Oddly enough, WV now: cpuwirk.

Yeah, I'm not sure Californian's CPUs were working before they suggested this ban.

I mean, it's like Blogger Verification knows.

Cheers,
Victoria

Slocum said...

I really dislike fluorescent tubes and the original compacts were nearly as bad, but many of the newer ones are quite good (and not very expensive either). When I take photos under my compact fluorescent desk lamps (I sometimes use my digital camera as a scanner), I've found that the tungsten (incandescent) white-balance setting gives good color balance, while the fluorescent setting is way off -- which confirms what my eyes tell me (that these bulbs produce light much more like incandescents than fluorescent tubes).

It goes without saying, though, that the ban is an absurd idea.

MadisonMan said...

The global warming issue is the best potential to result in civil war since slavery. One side believes that the other side is evil and is destroying the planet They are willing to thus pass draconian laws to wholly change American life for the other side. Once the laws are passed, the war begins.

And what does the other side believe?

When it comes to Global Warming, I think belief implies faith. You can either agree with the facts and the science, or not. You should have facts to support your agreement, of course.

Regardless of Global Warming facts, of course, the incandescent ban is loony nonsense.

al said...

I replaced some of the original CF bulbs with some new ones I picked up at Sam's Club and I've been really happy with them. So far they are in my office and the master bathroom. The light is easy on the eyes and the color is fine for me. I don't see the flicker effect either. We're replacing existing incandescents as they burn out in places where they make sense.

OTOH - like theo I'm waiting for the LED based bulbs. I've got a LED head for one of my Surefire flashlights and it is excellent. Tried some LED christmas lights this year as well. Cool to the touch and a nice clear color.

As for a ban - no way.

Sloanasaurus said...

When it comes to Global Warming, I think belief implies faith. You can either agree with the facts and the science, or not. You should have facts to support your agreement, of course.

This is exactly what I am talking about. One side believes its science and cannot be questioned. The other side believes the science is flawed and wrong.

William Timothy said...

I actually like CFL's. As the incadescents blow in my house, I've been replacing them with CFL's. Not all CFL's are equal, however. The one's I get from Lowe's seem better than the same brand from Wal-Mart. And there are different variations of "light ranges". "Daylight" CFL's produce a bluer/white range while the regular ones are a bit more yellowy-white. I like the daylight ones better, though they seem very blue until the warm up. I haven't had in discernable flicker except when I have a bad bulb. The only downside from my point of view is the CFL's in my house aren't as bright until they warm up (usually within a minute). Instant on, but not full brightness until they completely warm up.

It is only recently that I found out about the mercury...I switched to CFL's not to save money or help the environment but because they last longer. But isn't the mercury issue potentially a HUGE problem? We're already advised not eat locally caught fish more than once a week because mercury.

Revenant said...

And what does the other side believe?

When it comes to Global Warming, I think belief implies faith. You can either agree with the facts and the science, or not. You should have facts to support your agreement, of course.

That the planet is warming is, indeed, a scientific belief. It would even be fair to say that the belief that humans are the primary cause of this is a scientific belief.

The belief that we're going to suffer a cataclysm unless we do things like sign the Kyoto treaty and ban incandescent lights, on the other hand, is a faith-based, unscientific, and emotionally hysterical belief.

MadisonMan said...

That the planet is warming is, indeed, a scientific belief. It would even be fair to say that the belief that humans are the primary cause of this is a scientific belief.

A more accurate statement is that the measurements (which are facts, not beliefs) show warming. I know of very few measurements that show cooling in the past 30 years. In some places on Earth, all measurements indisputably show warming. (Example: the Drake Peninsula of Antarctica; parts of Alaska). Measurements are facts that are not to be disbelieved. The belief is that the warming is due to humans (read: increased carbon dioxide). The fact that the greatest measured warming is near the Poles is congruent with the hypothesis (or belief) that increased carbon dioxide is responsible.

Revenant said...

Measurements are facts that are not to be disbelieved.

That's quite wrong. Measurements are quite regularly one or more of (a) inaccurate, (b) fraudulent, or (c) misunderstood. Furthermore, the claim of global warming is that there is a long-term warming trend that is historically anomalous. This claim relies on temperature estimates that were *not* directly measured, as there exist no regular worldwide temperature readings prior to the 20th century.

So even if we accept that it is a fact that those readings we've been able to take show that the Earth is warming, it is not a fact that we've measured a historically anomalous warming of the Earth. That is merely a reasonable and scientific belief.

The fact that the greatest measured warming is near the Poles is congruent with the hypothesis (or belief) that increased carbon dioxide is responsible.

The south pole is cooler now than it was a half-century ago; it is the north pole, and many points in between, which is warming.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

One of my favorite stories is how scientists were doing ice core samples in Greenland a few years ago. Based on their assumtions of snowfall, impaction and ice build up, they were bringing up cores from about 1100 years ago when tehy ran into the wing of a WWII fighter plane, ditched there in 1945.

Talk about scientific assumtion running into cold, hard fact.

MadisonMan said...

The south pole is cooler now than it was a half-century ago

That is a map based on surface data. Ask yourself when you look at it : How many data points are there? Especially as the data from '95-'04 are being compared to norms computed between 1940-1980. That's one of the challenges of interpreting the data.

Routine instrumentation of Antarctica was not possible before the late 70s (as discussed here, for example).

MadisonMan said...

Based on their assumtions of snowfall, impaction and ice build up, they were bringing up cores from about 1100 years ago when tehy ran into the wing of a WWII fighter plane, ditched there in 1945.

That's not a story I've heard before. I do know the Lost Squadron -- several P-38s -- were recovered in the early 90s. They were ~250 feet below the ice surface, which suggests net snow accumulation of 5 feet/year. If you have a url discussing the retrieved wing, I'd like to read about it.

FattyBlogNats said...

LED Christmas lights are a good example of how a new energy-efficient alternative to incandescent lighting has improved its technology to a point where there is little visual difference to that of standard incandescent lighting.