Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

The Light Bulb That Can Change the World 1137

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the little-lightbulb-that-could dept.
An anonymous reader writes to tell us FastCompany is reporting on the latest and greatest version of the compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). While CFLs of the past may have been efficient, they certainly were not effective. However, according to the article, CFLs have come as far as cell phones have since the mid 80s while still maintaining that high efficiency. From the article: "if every one of 110 million American households bought just one [CFL], took it home, and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. One bulb swapped out, enough electricity saved to power all the homes in Delaware and Rhode Island. In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Light Bulb That Can Change the World

Comments Filter:
  • How many... (Score:5, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:51PM (#16002359)
    How many light bulbs does it take to change the world? No wait, that's not right...
    • Re:How many... (Score:4, Informative)

      by sootman (158191) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:24PM (#16002704) Homepage Journal
      Find the answer here. [wikipedia.org]
    • by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @07:11PM (#16003540) Homepage Journal

      How many light bulbs does it take to change the world? No wait, that's not right...

      The problem is people use these little efficient doodads to feel good about doing something green. Then they go out and buy a power-sucking plasma TV.

      Electrical use is way up since the 80's. Possibly because we all have tonnes more electronics bits to plug in and nearly everyone has a PC which adds a certain minimum for the hours its on. If you had a few lamps burning around the house which added up to the energy consumption of most desktop PCs you'd notice it right away and wonder why it's necessary. Alas, we sit at our keyboards and type merrily away (there's that batsard, ackthpt again, oi if only I had the mod points to bury him.) oblivious to the power consumption of our tin box full of CPU, DDR-RAM, HD, Whizzo Video Card De-Luxe, etc. Quite possibly we even have a reading lamp going beside us in the evening (I don't know about you, but at my age I get a headache looking at a glowing screen in the dark.) Plus there's all these little black plastic cubes and rectangles to run all manner of gizmo, which all add up.

      On another thought. I've got these wicked little LED flashlights which run for 130 hours on a battery the size of an aspirin. When will I see these in my house, rather than a fluorescent lamp?

  • Correction (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:53PM (#16002370)
    one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads
    I think you mean *110 million bulbs* are equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ArcticCelt (660351)
      "one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads"

      "I think you mean *110 million bulbs* are equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads."

      All this confusion is caused by the fact they did not used the journalistic standard system of measurement. I am talking of course of libraries of congress and/or football stadiums.

  • by prockcore (543967) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:53PM (#16002373)
    "Nah, that's just too much work, let's just start daylight saving time earlier!"

    (Lives in AZ, uses CFLs everywhere)
  • I've converted (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neonprimetime (528653) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:55PM (#16002393)
    Earlier last year, I started buying those Wal-Mart swirl bulbs and haven't looked back. I have replaced nearly every old light bulb with one of the swirls in my house now. It's an awesome idea, and I wish I could convince others to do the same. The savings on your energy bill is nice too! I have since given away to relatives my extra pre-purchased packs of old light bulbs, and I will never buy one of those oldies again. Swirl bulbs it is!
  • If this is true... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:55PM (#16002395)
    In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.

    Setting aside the debate over that statement - if it is even remotely true, then these bulbs are not just simply a 'good idea'.
    They are a moral imperative.

    Remember where those $100 bills that Hezbollah is handing out come from. Hint: they do not originate in Iran.

    • by roman_mir (125474) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:01PM (#16002471) Homepage Journal
      Only that statement is not true at all. Electricity is not oil. You can't really store electricity, it is either generated and used right away or it is just not used and the extra production is wasted. You can easily use more electricity when there is enough capacity generated and not worry that you are using more energy to produce that same electricity, if you don't use it, it'll just be wasted.

      However I do believe that oil powerplants should be all changed to nuclear and hydro where possible.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AnyoneEB (574727)
        If the demand is less, then the production will be less. Of course, switching to more efficient lightbulbs will probably not actually decrease demand, but it would at least make it increase slower.
      • by soft_guy (534437) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:15PM (#16002610)
        Very little of the electricity in the US is generated by oil. Most of the electricity in the US that is generated by oil is backup generators and other specialty uses.

        About half is generated by coal which contributes to pollution. The other big chunks are hydro, nuclear, and natural gas. Natural gas does produce CO2, but by far natural gas is the easiest type of power plant to get the permits to build.

        It is really hard to build new Hydro plants because people are concerned about the environmental impact. When I livedin the northwest, I heard lots of talk about people wanting to get rid of the hydro dams because they believe it would be beneficial to salmon. (This seems NUTS to me.)

        A lot of nuclear plants have actually been shut down. Still, the US gets lots of its energy from nuclear.

        A huge chunk of the electricity used in the US is actually wasted by AC to DC power adaptors for electronics and also for standby mode in other types of electronics (TVs, VCRs, etc.)

        If I could do whatever I wanted with energy policy, I would give serious consideration to re-starting existing nuclear plants that are unused and I would try to get as many people as possible to put solar panels on their roofs. I would also ban standby mode and try to find ways for consumer electronics to generate DC power more efficiently. More hydro plants would be good, but we are close to having as many as can be built. So, I'd look into building a few more, trying to reduce demand, and trying to close as many of the coal plants as possible.

        • by j1m+5n0w (749199) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:41PM (#16002881) Homepage Journal
          I would also ban standby mode and try to find ways for consumer electronics to generate DC power more efficiently.

          I don't think that banning standby mode altogether is a good idea; if implemented correctly, the energy consumption should be negligible. I think the easiest way right now to reduce electricity consumption without significant negative side-effects would be manditory energy-use labeling on all electronic devices (including components like video cards and hard drives) sold. These labels should state the maximum energy use (in watts) of the device when in use, idle (on and ready for use, but not actually doing anything), and in standby mode.

          A big problem right now is that consumers have no way of comparing products in terms of energy efficiency (save for water heaters and the like, which are already subject to such rules). When consumers aren't educated, bad products prevail [wikipedia.org].

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          A very good insight into the potential of such technologies is HBO's "Too Hot to Handle" documentary. In part 4, it is brought up that a theoretical solar power plant 100 miles long by 100 miles wide in the Mojave desert would cover 100% of U.S. energy demands. This is using existing technology and under existing energy standards.
          You wouldn't even need to change bulbs!

          You can find the documentary and download it for free through the iTunes store.
        • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @06:32PM (#16003314)
          When I livedin the northwest, I heard lots of talk about people wanting to get rid of the hydro dams because they believe it would be beneficial to salmon. (This seems NUTS to me.)

          You want to hear real crazy in the northwest?

          Tacoma, Washington recently decided to add another span to their overloaded Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge. (You might remember the original one was Galloping Gurdy... yeah, it's that bridge.) The designer who created the new bridge came up with a great idea... the Tacoma Narrows is known for having insanely-fast currents while the tide is coming in and going out. His idea was to put turbines in the base of the bridge tower to generate power during the tide shifts. Selling the generated power would, over the course of a few dozen years, pay for the construction of the bridge while at the same time providing clean energy to everyone nearby. Win-win!

          But of course, this is Washington Wacko-Environmentalist State. Instead, his plan was cancelled because the Wacko-Environmentalist movement decided that turbines, even covered with safety grilles, would kill fish-- and God knows that the lives of 3 fish a year is more important than tons of clean power! So now the bridge has a conventional base with no turbines and, as an added bonus, all of us non-wackos have to pay TOLLS to cross it!

          I have nothing against practical environmentalists, but that movement needs to filter a little more against the wackos who seem more against the advancement of humanity than the protection of the environment. Washington and Oregon seem to be the foundation of this wacko movement, unfortunately.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @12:37AM (#16005013)
            Tacoma, Washington recently decided to add another span to their overloaded Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge. (You might remember the original one was Galloping Gurdy... yeah, it's that bridge.) The designer who created the new bridge came up with a great idea... the Tacoma Narrows is known for having insanely-fast currents while the tide is coming in and going out. His idea was to put turbines in the base of the bridge tower to generate power during the tide shifts. Selling the generated power would, over the course of a few dozen years, pay for the construction of the bridge while at the same time providing clean energy to everyone nearby. Win-win!


            But of course, this is Washington Wacko-Environmentalist State. Instead, his plan was cancelled because the Wacko-Environmentalist movement decided that turbines, even covered with safety grilles, would kill fish-- and God knows that the lives of 3 fish a year is more important than tons of clean power! So now the bridge has a conventional base with no turbines and, as an added bonus, all of us non-wackos have to pay TOLLS to cross it!


            This should be modded "-1: making shit up". There are currently ideas to install dozens to hundreds of underwater turbines near the Tacoma Narrows bridges, but it would be a huge, very complex, and very costly project. Currently it's only an idea being studied (or planned on being studied). No turbine project was canceled to save 3 fish, but of course slandering environmentalists and liberals is far more important than truth or facts (which is why Republicans can no longer be trusted).


            http://www.djc.com/news/en/11180913.html [djc.com]
            http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/508 2737p-4630866c.html [thenewstribune.com]

            None of this is really relevant to the article, but since this got modded +5 I had to respond.

    • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:10PM (#16002566) Homepage
      In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.

      Setting aside the debate over that statement - if it is even remotely true, then these bulbs are not just simply a 'good idea'. They are a moral imperative.
       
      Remember where those $100 bills that Hezbollah is handing out come from. Hint: they do not originate in Iran.

      They are a moral imperative only if you are deluded enough to believe that reducing electrical consumption means significantly fewer dollars flowing to the Middle East from the US. Hint: Imported oil makes up a vanishingly small percentage of the already tiny percentage of electricity that comes from oil. Don't be misled by the analogy you quote.
      • Effect (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @06:52PM (#16003437)
        It could have an effect. Stores needs fewer trucks delivering bulbs. Fewer bulbs means fewer factory-hours spent making bulbs (and virtually every industrial process uses oil somewhere along the line). The decreased amount of glass required is a big one -- lots of oil gets used heating silica to make glass. Decreasing demand for electricity brings the price of electricity down, making electric vehicles more attractive.

        None of these effects is pronounced, but the ripple spreads out. And that's just one of the things you have to accept with the quest to reduce oil-dependence: it will be thousands and thousands of little things that win the war. A few E85 SUVs here, a few electric cars there, some scooters and motorcycles for the cool kids. CFLs all over the place. Industry starts taking conservation seriously and revamps their processes (you can find hundreds of success stories of manufacturers bringing their power usage way down while simultaneously making their entire operation faster and more efficient). A smarter chemical industry. Old houses being replaced by better houses. Nothing can solve the problem in and of itself, but it all adds up.

    • by KalvinB (205500)
      You could see sheets of uncut $100 bills in one of the photos taken in the region.

      http://www.kxma.com/getARticle.asp?ArticleId=35971 [kxma.com]

  • White light? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rackhamh (217889) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:55PM (#16002396)
    From TFA: "The bulbs come on quickly; their light is bright, white, steady, and silent."

    In my experience, the problem with non-traditional lightbulbs isn't that they're weak -- it's that they cast a harsh light. Many people I know would refuse to place even the most efficient light bulb in their living room if they didn't find the light warm and pleasing. When TFA says the light is "white," this makes me think that there is at least one problem remaining to be solved -- though perhaps it would be as simple as using lightly tinted glass for the bulb.
    • Re:White light? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fruity_pebbles (568822) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:01PM (#16002463)
      The ones I've been buying recently have been marked "soft white". They're not the same as an incandescent bulb, but they're close enough that my wife doesn't complain about them (like she did with older CFLs).
    • I have CFLs in my bathroom, bedrooms, hallway, washroom and garage. The only reason they aren't in the other rooms is because of light fixture limitations or the existing bulbs haven't burnt out yet. I have two different styles. One is the exposed spiral style, and those ones are warm and bright. All of those ones I have are either in can lights, or behind some type of glass. I had another few that had a spherical bulb over the CFL, those were a bit more warm (just a touch of yellow). The bulb made them a b
    • Re:White light? (Score:5, Informative)

      by tgd (2822) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:07PM (#16002534)
      Look on the package for the color temperature of the bulb. You want 2700 degree ones (which match incandescent bulbs so closely, if you didn't know it was CFL you wouldn't guess it).

      Up until recently (ie, the last six months or so) most of the bulbs you'd find in the typical discount stores were 4000-5000 degree.
      • by MegaThawt (672826) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:33PM (#16002792)
        Up until recently (ie, the last six months or so) most of the bulbs you'd find in the typical discount stores were 4000-5000 degree.

        Great ... since I installed CFL's over the last two years, I have to wait only about 8 years before I can start replacing them with the 2700 degree ones.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PJC1 (301605)
      There are two factors which can cause a CFL to look "harsh." One is the color temperature and the other is the color rendering index. Typical color temperatures range from 2,700K-6,500K. The best color temperature is a matter of preference, but a general rule is to use lower CCTs (warmer) at lower light levels and higher CCTs (cooler) at higher light levels. While many people consider the color temperature of a fluorescent bulb, fewer take the CRI into consideration. Older and cheaper fluorescent lamps
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:55PM (#16002399) Homepage Journal
    People don't see the benefits that these bulbs bring, the biggest thing people can commonly do to help the environment is to simply turn off unused lights and devices.
    We are all guilty of leaving extra lights on and not shutting off the pc or tv, think of how much energy we can save if we switched off the internet just for a couple of hours (and I mean all of it, not just your terminal!)
  • Oil != electricity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flanksteak (69032) * on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:56PM (#16002401) Homepage
    In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.
    While I'm glad to see that WalMart is making an effort to promote energy efficiency, everyone in the article kept tying more efficient light bulbs to our dependence on foreign oil. The last time I checked, the US generates very little electricity from oil. It's coal and nuclear these days. Can't we get people to try more compact cars to go with their compact bulbs, or at least straighten out the details on our energy generation story?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cybermage (112274)
      The last time I checked, the US generates very little electricity from oil. It's coal and nuclear these days.

      I made the same observation. However, the point being made is that we generate electricity in ways that put carbon in the air, keep in mind that more than 50% comes from coal [doe.gov]

  • by tgd (2822) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:56PM (#16002402)
    Is for the big box stores to start carrying the dimmable CFL bulbs.

    My house is almost entirely on dimmers. Its a ten year old rennovation of a 70 year old house. Modern McMansions are almost entirely on dimmers as well.

    With all these dimmers out there, you'd think you'd be able to get dimmable CFL bulbs places other than the very occasional lighting shop or online.

    I've switched essentially everything else in my house over at this point, except for the ones on dimmers.
  • by rayde (738949) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:56PM (#16002404) Homepage
    i think this is great, the only issue is that people go to the store when a bulb is dead, see a pack of 2 for under a dollar at walmart, and will buy that. sure, those fancy flouresent bulbs are there, but they cost $6 or more a piece... and the average person is probably just going to grab the cheap one.

    flourescent light bulbs are an investment. and for normal people, light bulbs are not exactly the type of thing you think of investing in.

    • You don't change it, you replace it. The bulb itself stays the same
    • lightbulb is one word
    • no it isn't
    • in Soviet Russia, light bulb changes you
    • all your light R belong to us!
    • 1
    • I'd like to see Natalie Portman change it while I'm eating hot grits
    • Dupe!
  • by pickyouupatnine (901260) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:57PM (#16002422) Homepage
    Honestly - since these bulbs are so efficient, shouldn't there be a government sponsorship / subsidization to make them as widely available (read: cheap) as regular bulbs? One would hope that it was be a no-brainer to include this in the energy plan - especially if we're funding experimental stuff like hydrogen powered fuelcells.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tashanna (409911)

      Rebates are everywhere. Just look [google.com]. From the first page:

      In that list there's governments, utilities, and some organizations I'm not real sure about, but the point is that there's rebates all over the place. The one thing to note is that it's all handled locally instead of one big Federal government initiative. Just because the feds aren't doing it doesn't mean it's not getting done. Thank God for that.

      - Tash [tashcorp.net]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lelitsch (31136)
      You mean like in California? PG&E gives cash back on all kinds of energy saving appliances including light bulbs [pge.com].
  • PG&E in California (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bi_boy (630968) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:57PM (#16002423)
    PG&E in California is currently running a program where they take the bill for rebates on CFL bulbs so they can be had for under a dollar easily from Wal-Mart. Stock up and switch all your homes lighting over if you have not done so already.
  • But what about RFI? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dwm (151474) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:58PM (#16002433)
    One of the big problems with fluorescent lights is that they produce a lot more radio frequency interference (RFI) than incandescents. While they are more efficient energy-wise, the RFI issue is a show-stopper for anyone sensitive to such things (radio amateurs and other odd folk).

    Has any progress been made in reducing fluorescent light RFI -- or is even feasable/possible?
    • by StikyPad (445176) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @07:24PM (#16003608) Homepage
      The interferance really isn't that big of a deal. I work with critical RF communications equipment, and our facility is lit entirely by fluorescent. Unless your equipment is particularly poorly designed (like you built it yourself in a wooden box), or you use an unshielded antenna run, we're talking interferance well below -90dBm, which isn't anything to get your panties in a bunch over. Granted, you can see the difference on a Spec-An. inside just by turning off the lights, but if you hook it to the shielded antenna cable, the difference is almost immeasurable.

      One of my co-workers is also a HAM fanatic. His light sockets are exclusively populated with CFLs, and he gets more interferance from the switching power supply than the lightbulbs.

      At any rate, the RF is produced by the same process that creates the light -- the ionization of gas -- so there's really no way to prevent that. You could put a Faraday cage around it, but that would dim the light considerably.
  • by OS24Ever (245667) * <trekkie@nomorestars.com> on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:59PM (#16002446) Homepage Journal
    I'd been kicking around the 'replace lights when they burn out with CF lights' idea, and then I sat down and did the math and figured that within a year they would pay for themselves in energy savings. I did a write up [nomorestars.com] about it on my boring ass personal blog just to document when I did it so that I could come back and see what power savings I saw.

    I would say that I replaced 18 65W bulbs in regular light fixtures, 20 65W 'globe' lights in three bathrooms, 5 chandalier 45W bulbs, four outdoor 150W Spotlights, not including about 8 - 10 bulbs already installed in the 'light burned out' category since we moved into this home in May 2003.

    I'm keeping track of the power spent so far, and interested to see if there is a noticeable drop. Noticeable to me = $5 - $10 average. I'm not expecting a bill to go down by half, I do live in North Carolina and it's summer time so the AC is on full blast most of the time.

    My next venture is into a PV System to offset the amount of energy I need to buy every month vs. the sun could provide. I'm still investigating that system but it appears that I could invest about $10,000 in a decent system, and get about half back in tax breaks from my state & federal government programs. If I get it in before the end of 2007.

    Honestly with the Slyvania bulbs I used, I don't see a color temp difference. There is a slight delay from 'on' light output to full light output and even though they use a lot less power they are on average much bright light luminosity wise. But just in the last 5 years alone the delay you would see from light switch - light on has dropped to near instantaneous. There are several bulbs I put in 2003 that you can count out a second or so from switch on to light in the room. But these new ones come on when you turn em on.
  • by sugapablo (600023) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:00PM (#16002450) Homepage
    Or at least make a big difference [seventhgen.com]. Problem is, most people couldn't care less.
  • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:02PM (#16002473)
    Shamelessly plagarized [randomfoo.net] but also edited for clarity:


    A CFL in every Home = 1 Nuclear Power Plant


    I spent a lot of my weekend doing research on energy, power generation, etc. (See my MyWeb links) I decided to run some rough numbers, and have come to the conclusion that the best use of government funds is to probably have a CFL handout/trade-in program.


    There are an estimated 110M households in the US, so if you replaced one 60W incandescent with a similarly lumen-rated 13W CFL (I'd estimate a distribution cost of $100M-200M), you'd save just over $4.1B in electrical bills over the lifetime of the bulbs ($0.10/kWh over 8000 hours). At 5 hours/evening of usage (~4.4yr), we're looking at almost a billion bucks a year. That's not a bad ROI.


    Another interesting figure that comes out of that is that we're talking about a significantly large amount of power saved. Over the bulb lifetime, the number comes out to over 41M MWh, or based on the 4.4y estimated lifetime, about 9.4M MWh/yr. That's more than your average 1000MW nuclear power plant will be able to generate (about 7.8M MWh at 90% efficiency), and a significantly lower cost ($2-4/MWh for handing out light bulbs versus $50-80/MWh).


    So, replacing 1 incadescent light-bulb in each of the 110M households in the country would save the equivalent of one nuclear power plant (or better yet, a bunch of fossil fuel ones, which function at a much lower efficiency (around 60%) and are usually lower capacity).


    It's probably fair to say that up to 4 bulbs per house could be replaced before the law of diminishing returns kicks in. So we could save the equivalent of 4 nuclear power plants or 8-10 "dirty" power plants at 1/10th the cost of operating them, plus saving all the externalities like reduced pollution too.

  • Much better bulbs (Score:3, Informative)

    by robathome (34756) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:02PM (#16002485)

    I've replaced all the outside lighting and the utility lighting in the basement with CFLs. All in all, I've replaced 700W of incandescents with 137W of fluorescent. They're much brighter, faster to come to full output, and purer white than any compact fluorescent bulb from the last generation.

    They're absolutely perfect for work and utility areas. For living areas and reading light, however, I still prefer tungsten bulbs.

  • LED Bulbs? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swngnmonk (210826) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:05PM (#16002513) Homepage

    I'm curious about the future of LED light bulbs - the potential from a bulb w/ 60,000 hours of life and power consumption under a watt is very attractive. I know light dispersion is an issue (e.g. they just don't throw out enough light), but what's on the horizon?

  • by slapyslapslap (995769) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:10PM (#16002564)
    I recently picked up 4 new flourescent bulbs at Walmart that didn't look like coils. They were actually close to the shape of a normal incandescent bulb. I placed the in a bathroom that had 4 lights above a mirror (you've probably seen that kind of setup a thousand times), so naturally you don't need the kind of light you get from 4 100 watt bulbs. I'm surprised at the quality of light that I'm getting, and they don't look funny either. (they're fully exposed bulbs). They even had the "tulip" shaped bulbs that you might put in a ceiling fixture. I may replace my bulbs in my ceiling fans with them.
  • Interesting Factoids (Score:3, Informative)

    by StarfishOne (756076) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:24PM (#16002702)
    Slightly OT, because it is not about saving energy by changing light bulbs, but just as important when it comes to saving energy: the so-called "Phantom Load", or the energy which is still being used by devices which are apparently switched off or those that are in stand-by mode.

    It is estimated that between 6 and 16% of all electricity used in the USA on an annual bases is wasted because of this. (Source [berkeley.edu])

    It is also estimated that:

    "... all TV and VCR that are turned off cost Americans nearly a billion dollars a year in electricity."
    (Source [sustainability.ca])

    And that:

    "[One study estimated] that the phantom load from TV's alone was equal to the output of a Chernobyl sized power plant. "
    (Source [berkeley.edu]) Also interesting:

    "There is no question that rolling blackouts could have been avoided if Californians cut their dryer use in half. Heck, it would only take something like a 10% reduction in electrical use across the country to shut down half of the nuclear power plants."
    (Source [michaelbluejay.com])

    Personally, I'm more than happy to take the small effort of actually walking to the TV (and other devices) to turn it on/off instead of leaving it on standby. And you're not just saving the enviroment either, being aware and watching devices which "leak electricity" in your house can easily save you $$$ (yes, 3 digit number) on a yearly basis!

    To add a personal bit of evidence discovered while inspecting all electrical devices in the house with something similar to the Kill-A-Watt meter [the-gadgeteer.com]: it is shocking to discover that a lamp is using 40 Watt while in use, and still 25 Watt when switched turned ""off""! Bad, bad design with perhaps some cheapo, heat generating transformer.

    Oh, and strategicly placed power strips with a single master switch to operate for example your TV/Stereo installation make all of this very simple.
  • We Phased them In (Score:3, Informative)

    by beadfulthings (975812) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:29PM (#16002754) Journal
    We started using the CFL's earlier this year simply by replacing incandescents as they burned out. So far, it's been a good experience--not great, but good. I've noted:

    1) Great in the kitchen. We have six older recessed "can" lights, and the CFL's have performed well. It would possibly be better to convert to recessed halogen lights, but that's a spendy proposition. The CFL's illuminate task areas just fine.

    2) Good in the living room and other reading/chatting areas. Haven't had any problems reading, and the light seems warm enough that we don't look like we live in a bus station.

    3) Really good in hallways/stair areas. There's an elderly relative around, and the CFL's have done a better job than incandescents at clearly illuminating the upstairs hallway, stairwell, etc. I think this is because of the "white" quality of the light.

    4) Awful in the bathroom. For some reason--maybe the light paint, glossy tiles, or mirrors--they turn you into one of the undead when you look into the mirror early in the morning. Incandescents are better here.

    A couple of drawbacks we've noticed are:

    1) They can make an odd noise. This seems to be a prelude to one of them going bad.

    2) We seem to get an occasional bad one. That hurts due to the price.

    3) They do take a while to come on. Hasn't been a problem so far except in the upstairs hallway.

    I believe (but am not sure) that we're saving on electricity. Our utility company railroaded through a 72 percent increase over the next three years, so it's hard to tell at this point.
  • Energy Savings (Score:5, Interesting)

    by laduran (998667) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:57PM (#16003043)
    I used to be on the board of an HOA for a small 12-unit condominium. The HOA was owner run and we were looking to cut our expenses. One major expense was electricity. In part this was because all the common hallways were lit 24/7/365 by old incandescent flood lights. Replacing about 36 60Watt floodlights with 15Watt CF bulbs saved the HOA over $1200/year. Not to mention that we haven't had to replace a single CF since they were installed in summer 2003. This cost savings meant that we didn't need to raise HOA dues when other condos across town were doing just that. We recup'ed our investment in the bulbs in less than three months.
  • by DrCode (95839) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @06:19PM (#16003219)
    Real Americans aren't going to go for this. When we need light (which isn't that often 'cause we're usually out in the woods hunting), we just fire up the Hummer and aim its headlights into the window.
  • by puppetman (131489) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @06:30PM (#16003304) Homepage
    We have about half a dozen in our 20-bulb house (I counted - it's a small house).

    I read some, "They whine and buzz" - might have been older versions.

    "They're dark" - ditto.

    "They have mercury in them" - true, but as TreeHugger.com put it: [treehugger.com]

    "Ironically, compact fluorescent bulbs are responsible for less mercury contamination than the incandescent bulbs they replaced, even though incandescents don't contain any mercury. The highest source of mercury in America's air and water results from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, at utilities that supply electricity. Since a compact fluorescent bulb uses 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb, and lasts at least six times longer, it is responsible for far less mercury pollution in the long run. A coal-burning power plant will emit four times more mercury to produce the electricity for an incandescent bulb than for a compact fluorescent."

    But before you take all the wonderful things I've said about them at face value, there is something I learned the hard way: check the color of light the bulb produces.

    From the Wikipedia [wikipedia.org],

            * "Warm white" (2,700 K) provides a light extremely similar to that of an incandescent bulb, somewhat yellow in appearance;
            * "Soft white" (3,500 K) bulbs produce a yellowish-white light;
            * "Cool white" (4,100 K) bulbs emit more of a pure white tone; and
            * "Daylight" (6,400 K) is slightly bluish-white.

    I accidentally bought "Daylight" bulbs for the bathroom. It made the room a psychotic blue-ish tint (I imagined Jack was going to start chopping through the bathroom door with an axe - "Here's Johnny"). Warm white seems like the color to get. Unfortunately, I bought an 8-pack, but fine for utility lighting, etc.
  • Subsidies (Score:4, Informative)

    by jsky20 (998666) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @06:49PM (#16003420)

    If you live under the domain of a more enlightened electric utility company (or, if you prefer, a more regulated utility), there may be subsidized bulbs or rebates available for your CFL lamp and fixture needs. http://www.efi.org/ [efi.org] offers limited quantities at subsidized prices, primarily in the New England area. Even if you're not covered by the subsidy, EFI offers retail pricing and honors manufacturers' warrantees -- if your 10,000 hour CFL goes out a few years too soon, it will be replaced with minimal hassle.

    Brand can be king and you get what you pay for. If you've had a bad experience with a particular brand but like the concept of CFLs, try another. There are some really shitty CFL manufacturers, to be sure. If you don't like the light it gives off, try a different color temperature (higher is whiter/"bluer", 2700k is "standard," about as close as they get to an incandescent temp) and wattage.

    Mercury content is fairly negligible and is offset by reduction in coal-burning plant pollution. They can be recycled with many local recycling programs. Magnetic ballasts in CFL fixtures have been replaced by more efficient electronic ballasts that cut down on intereference, hum, and slow start times.

    In addition to CFL subsidies, rebates are offered on Energy Star appliances. Check http://www.energystar.gov/ [energystar.gov] if you're in the market and take the time to do the math in terms of overall price and energy payback.

    Call your utilities and see what else they might have to offer. There are low-interest loan programs out there for more efficient heating/cooling equipment. Replace your windows. Get an energy audit. Take advantage of federal tax credits. Learn how to regulate solar heat gain. There are any number of ways to cut costs and bring energy demand down regardless, if CFLs aren't your bag.

  • by mbourgon (186257) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @12:44AM (#16005040) Homepage
    Serious question - was telling my wife about these, and she mentioned how they still hum (which I'm sensitive to), they cause/worsen her migraines, and that some people (not us) are sensitive to flicker.

    Are these better now?

Money is the root of all wealth.

Working...