Energy bill makes good sense

Published 7:52 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2007

By Staff
Given all the smoke that’s been created, it’s time to shed some light on an energy bill that passed Congress this month.
Among the many issues addressed, the one that will impact all Americans in one way is a ban on old inefficient incandescent light bulbs.
Thomas Edison’s invention of 130 years ago is going to have to go through a serious makeover, and that has forced some out of their comfort zone.
First let’s say it’s not a ban on all incandescent bulbs. It’s a ban on the inefficient ones.
In February, G.E. said that it was developing a high-efficiency incandescent that will radiate more than twice the light of conventional incandescents. It expects to make that one commercially available in about two years. Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, which do cost more than common incandescent bulbs are already available. They also last seven to 10 times longer and use far less energy.
There are some strong reasons why it’s time for the old-style bulbs to go. While they are cheap, they waste a huge amount of energy. . Ever wonder why you can bake cookies in Easy Bake Oven? The reason is a typical incandescent bulb uses about 90 percent of its energy to create heat. The other 10 percent is used to create light.
Electric utilities have also embraced the concept of the new style bulbs. Tideland EMC, a local electrical co-op, gave CFL bulbs away at its recent annual meeting and big retailers like Wal-Mart are making them far easier, and cheaper, to buy.
Under the measure, all light bulbs must use 25 percent to 30 percent less energy than today’s products by 2012 to 2014. The phase-in will start with 100-watt bulbs in January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in January 2014. By 2020, bulbs must be 70 percent more efficient than what they are today.
Energy standards aren’t anything new. We have them for cars. We have them for appliances. It makes sense that we have them for light bulbs. We don’t see that as a lofty goal; we see that as something that everybody can do to reduce energy demands.
With the phase out, the U.S. would cut light bulb electricity use by 60 percent by 2020. The light bulb standard alone will cut Americans’ electric bills up to $18 billion annually.
Generations of Americans have accepted the bulbs we use now because quite simply there was nothing else out there to choose from. That isn’t true anymore. There are alternatives.