Monday, January 21, 2008

How Many Iowans Does It Take To Change a Light Bulb?

There was a big article in the local rag this weekend about the energy bill. One of the many facets of the bill would require light bulbs to become upwards of 30% more efficient effectively meaning the old incandescent bulb would be obsolete. In its place, you would have to buy a more efficient fluorescent or LED bulb. I am highly in favor of this portion of the bill because in one swoop 24 coal-burning power plants across the United States would no longer be needed if all other sectors of our energy consumption remained the same. We all know it won't but this is a start in the right direction.

What amused me most was that the paper interviewed a handful of people around our state asking them what they thought about being forced to use other bulbs besides their incandescent ones. Margaret Tomaszek of Des Moines wasn't sold on energy-efficient bulbs. "I'm not buying them; they are too expensive," she said. "Plus, some of the new ones are spiral and really ugly. If you're going to put a bulb into a pretty fixture, you don't want to use those ugly things." Having had those ugly spiral bulbs for a while, I can't say that they are any more beautiful than the standard incandescent ones but then again, I don't spend the majority of my day looking at them. In fact, I have had not one person mention the ugliness of the bulbs in our house even when we've been discussing about other people switching over. Only after we point out that we've already switched do they notice. As for the expensive part of her comment, I bought mine in an 8 pack at Menards for about $10, or $1.25 per bulb. If the old bulbs cost $.25/bulb, it would only take five years of the ten year life span to pay back the cost of purchase. Not to mention your local utility company gives you rebates back on the bulbs. Obviously Magaret hasn't been out shopping for these bulbs.

Heather Blackburn of Des Moines didn't like the new bulbs "because it takes forever for them to come on. I hate waiting for them to come on when I'm trying to get ready for the day in the bathroom," she said. "They do last longer, but in the future I'll probably go back to buying the old ones, in part because they are cheaper." I would say Heather is confusing the old four feet tube fluorescent bulbs with the new compact spiral bulbs. When I flip on the switch with new fluorescent bulbs, the lights come on instantaneously, just like the old incandescent bulbs. Others like Margaret and Heather went on to say similar ignorant comments making me thankful that the newspaper this article was in was just the state rag and doesn't have nationwide distribution.

In the end, it appears as if we Americans are the same as always, embracing change when voting at the polls but running away from it screaming when it comes knocking at our doors. Here we have a way to save money directly in OUR pocket books and also indirectly when we can give our overloaded electrical infrastructure a little breathing room, in fact 30% more breathing room. All it took me was watching the ads for sales and then going out and buying an armload to replace the approximately three-dozen light bulbs scattered throughout my house. Already I see signs of a reduced utility bill and all because I did the math instead of spouting statements to the state rag that shout that I don't know what I'm talking about.

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