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  • Quality of Light, Quality of Life

    The soon-to-be-effective ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs creates more concerns than just the forceful shift of market shares; it also raises questions regarding individual freedom and even general well-being.

    Howard Brandston is a renowned lighting designer who has over 50 years of experience and an impressive project record: To date, he has designed over 2,500 projects, one of which was the 1984 relighting of the Statue of Liberty. When Brandston makes a statement about the relative quality of the two types of light, as he did in The New York Times recently, it does well to listen:

    I think the government’s use of lumens-per-watt as a metric is a mistake. It doesn’t follow lighting practice. It’s one tiny part of what lighting design is all about. And by using that one metric, you are limiting the choices of all lighting designers and not following good lighting practice…. It’s not even an accurate measure of efficiency because in order to make their case they are to some extent misrepresenting the value of these lamps that they’re suggesting, which are compact fluorescents to replace incandescents…. The quality of light from the compact fluorescent is about the worst of the major light sources manufactured today.

    What this means is that, by being forced by law to purchase a specific type of light, consumers will see the quality of lighting available being limited.

    Public safety is another concern. As The Heritage Foundation’s Diane Katz points out, the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended cleanup procedures in the case of a broken fluorescent bulb (which contains toxic mercury) are complicated, to say the least. Just expecting all households to recycle the bulbs in the first place, much less to rigorously follow these procedures in case of breakage, is unrealistic.

    The complaints of compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) extend beyond the burdensome cleanup process. They do not give off heat, where incandescent bulbs do. Many consumers in homes with well-and-septic systems use the heat from incandescent bulbs to keep the water above freezing. Problems still exist with dimmer switches, while many simply dislike the light that CFLs give off.

    At the same time, many consumers are willing to pay the higher price for CFLs because it saves them money on their electricity bill, illustrating that individuals have different tastes and preferences.

    And that is why the ultimate decision should be left up to the consumer: to protect personal choice and freedom. The ban of the incandescent bulb is one of the most egregious examples of government intrusion into the marketplace and into our lives. As Brandston asserts in National Review:

    Here we have the government entering all of our homes. Our homes are our castles…. Now they are telling us how to light our homes, and they are putting onerous burdens on us in terms of handling these toxic CFLs. The government should not enter our homes, tell us how to live, endanger our health, and ruin our quality of life.

     

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Quality of Light, Quality of Life

    1. @_IronBard says:

      I wonder how the EPA would feel if a thousand people with two thousand fluorescent light bulbs accidentally drop them on their door step? Oopsie!

    2. Bobbie says:

      Wasn't it GE who sang with angelic voices, "we bring good things to light?" Now, working with government "we bring good things to an end" with a hazardous, costly compromise to your quality of life!? The EPA is out of touch with no sound research that promotes reality. Immoral, inappropriate, unethical, unfair for tax payers to be obligated by unconstitutional government rule, EPA's expense. and the expense to government unconstitutional involvement.

    3. VT_Lighting_Designer says:

      This is all a false argument. Frankly I don't get why Mr. Brandston continues to perpetuate these false arguments. While traditional incandescent bulbs go away, new more efficient halogen versions take their place. These new energy efficient incandescents are already available and produce the same light quality that lighting designers demand. Prices are currently about $1.50 each and expected to get down to $0.70 each next year. There is nobody forcing anyone to use CFLs and consumers and lighting designers will still be able to choose low-priced, but more efficient, incandescent bulbs. I would assume Mr. Brandston is aware of this, why does he continue like this? Now if his argument were only about government limiting choice and his principals against that, that's a whole other issue and I can understand why some feel that way. But enough with the bogus arguments about people being made to use CFLs and their downsides. Mr. Brandston was once a hear among lighting designers, it's sad to see where he's gone.

      • Joe Karma says:

        VT, Thanks for the elementary lesson on lighting I don't what I wound have done without you..But, I think the argument is over freedom and if you call that a false argument we know what side your on..

      • Bobbie says:

        oh, excuse me! the lighting designers DEMAND it's light quality which means the rest of us to be forced the same insistence? How about the lighting designers keep their demands to themselves to work out instead of thinking for the rest of us who know it to be different in the real world, like Mr. Brandston has come to know? what authority did the government give lighting designers over the peoples' freedom of choice? Obviously Mr. Brandston wizened up!

    4. _Ron says:

      Let's see them come into my castle and confiscate my inventory of light bulbs!

      • Michael says:

        Hey Ron, you are sooo right! I feel the same way! Let them try to come into my home to take away my hoard of light bulbs, they would wonder what the hell hit them! That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!!

    5. Manuel Vergis says:

      The most offensive part of this argument is THAT ALL THESE "CFL'S" ARE BEING (so far as I know) MANUFACTURED IN CHINA. AND SPEAKING OF GENERAL ELECTRIC, THIS IS THE SAME COMPANY THAT PAID ZERO TAXES ON $35 BILLION IN PROFITS FROM OVERSEAS BUSINESS AND THE CEO IS ON PRESIDENT OBAMA'S ECONOMIC COUNCEL. TALK ABOUT A SCREWED UP GOVERNMENT, MORE PRECISELY SCREWED UP PRESIDENT. OBAMA HASN'T A CLUE OF WHAT HE IS DOING AND NONE OF HIS CABINET DOES EITHER. 2012 CAN'T GET HERE QUICK ENOUGH, BUT JUST IN CASE-I'M CHECKING OUT PROPERTY IN COSTA RICA.

    6. Stu says:

      You do not know what you are taliking about. CFL's do not give off the same type of light as the bulbs I grew up with and prefer over CFL's. But's that's besides the point. Something is inherently wrong when the Federal Government wields this kind of over reaching power. How much longer till we shake of the chains of a Representative Republic for the limmited freedom of a Monarchy? I certainly hope my sarcasm was apparent..

    7. Robin Altman says:

      There are very few incandescent bulb makers left in the US. The one's still here were not heavy democrat supporters and so have their industry torn apart. GE was a heavy donor and look what they got – billions of infusion capital in 2008-2009 and now low taxes since they actually manufacture very little in the US.

      CFL bulbs should have been banned because of the mercury, but since the EPA is actually a political animal they have turned a cold shoulder just like the Fluoride debacle.

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