Can Energy-Efficient CFL Bulbs Walk The Green Walk?

Can Energy-Efficient CFL Bulbs Walk The Green Walk?

We’re all about saving money along with the environment. So when we heard about Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL), which are more energy-efficient and reduce that dratted energy bill, we jumped right on the CFL bandwagon.  But after learning about California’s experiences with the bulbs, we suspect we may have bought into the hype rather than the effect.

A CFL Experiment In Cali.
California, land of hemp and celebrities (as seen from the East Coast), was right next to us in their endorsement of CFL bulbs. Of course, theirs is much larger-scale: They pre-empted the upcoming country-wide phase-out of traditional light bulbs and began their own phase-out on New Year’s Day of this year. Unfortunately, its results haven’t been overwhelmingly positive. Researchers found that not only is it difficult to measure energy savings, but that the CFL bulbs burn out about three years earlier than originally expected, which means users create more waste and buy more bulbs—perfect for the manufacturers, less so for the greenhouse effect.

First California, Then The Entire Country.

Beginning in 2010, a federal law will require a 28% increase in lighting efficiency for any bulb sold, says the Wall Street Journal. By 2014, traditional light bulbs will be removed from stores. It’s still the case that CFL bulbs outlast traditional, soon-to-be-outdated incandescents, but more was expected and less was delivered. Clearly, traditional lighting methods are on the outs, but was California too eager in its implementation of the CFL bulbs—did it rush to find a better solution, instead of waiting for the best?

Look On The Bright Side.

As green projects gain momentum, we can’t foresee the ultimate best option. But the highly-visible California may have made a rookie mistake, one that we’re sometimes guilty of ourselves: getting wrapped up in the idea of being green, without making all that much of a difference. As researchers and manufacturers make progress towards more sustainable living, the hype often outweighs the options. We’ve written in the past about how “going green” might not be all it’s cracked up to be, but we’re still constantly on the lookout for effective ways to save energy and money. When it comes to progress, is the right move settling for “better” to get the ball rolling, or holding out for the ultimate best?


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