If energy needs to be saved, there are good ways to do it.
                                                               Government product regulation is not one of them

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Yes it is a Ban!

...and it is a ban with the clear intention to favor CFL sales...

Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007/Title III/Subtitle B/Section 321

"The Secretary of Energy shall report to Congress on the time frame for commercialization of lighting to replace incandescent and halogen incandescent lamp technology"

So the intention is clearly stated.


"BACKSTOP REQUIREMENT— if the final rule [not later than January 1, 2017] does not produce savings that are greater than or equal to the savings from a minimum efficacy standard of 45 lumens per watt, effective beginning January 1, 2020, the Secretary shall prohibit the sale of any general service lamp that does not meet a minimum efficacy standard of 45 lumens per watt"

Even the Dept of Energy itself, albeit reluctantly, talks of a second stage ban in this regard: that this
"may qualify as an outright “ban” on certain general service lamps"

The Energy Information Administration at the Department of Energy confirms:
"The second tier of efficiency improvements becomes effective by 2020,
essentially requiring general service bulbs to be as efficient as today's CFLs"

(efficiency being a relative word, energy efficiency of course not being the same as performance efficiency, whether with fast cars or bright light bulbs!)

So, contrary to what Americans are being told:
Federal US (like EU) regulations are not just about banning simple regular incandescent light bulbs, they are also about banning incandescent technology itself for ordinary common light bulbs.

1. Setting a standard that does not allow certain products is of course the same as banning them.

2. Setting energy efficiency standards that (by 2020) does not allow any of today's known or indeed announced ordinary incandescent bulbs - including the Halogens that are usually around 20 lumen per watt, maxing at around 25-30 lumen per watt - is the same as banning them too.

3. To say that if I climb Mount Everest then I can smoke a cigarette,
does not really mean that I can smoke a cigarette...

As it was in the EU, so now in the USA:
The pro-regulation propaganda machine is being rolled out to reassure American consumers - and their political representatives - that the popular light bulbs (8 out of 10 bought) won't go away, that they will still have "lookalike alternatives".

This has recently taken a new frenzy, following the launch of Congressman Joe Barton's repeal ban bill for a vote next week.

The USA Natural Resources Defense Council blog can do as a typical example:

"Supporters of the repeal falsely claim that lighting efficiency standards will ban incandescent light bulbs. But as Rep. Upton knows well, this is claim is simply untrue. Indeed, it’s a whopper. Advanced incandescent bulbs that meet the new efficiency standards – but look and provide light just the same as old-fashioned light bulbs -- are on the market..."

This is therefore not true, standards will be phased in for regular general service household bulbs that no known incandescent - Halogen or otherwise - can meet, and even if they could, they would hardly be made, as incandescent technology is admitted to be unprofitable for the major manufacturers (the industrial politics is covered here).

The further issue that keeps being forgotten,
is that energy standard requirements change product characteristics.
See http://ceolas.net/#cc21x regarding buildings and cars as well as washing machines, TV sets etc apart from light bulbs.
So, for example, a fuel efficient car may be lighter, flimsier, less safe, or slower and more poorly accelerating then the equivalent without fuel efficiency standard.

Similarly, replacement-type Halogen bulbs are still different from common simple incandescents in light quality etc, apart from costing much more for marginal savings, which is why they are not popular either with politicians or consumers:
If people really take up this "offer" to keep using incandescents that are less energy efficient than CFLs or LEDs the national energy savings would be even less than otherwise.

Post-ban EU shows what happens:
The temporarily allowed Halogen type replacements are only available in certain shops - and then only in in limited ranges - following the same bland promises from politicians there.
CFL and to a lesser extent LED sales are massively pushed in general stores, "to save people money", regardless of whether people like them or not (and liking a product does not mean one still can't appreciate other products, for their advantages).

So, people are denied the use of a cheap, safe, useful lighting technology
(and pushed to use questionably safe alternatives),
- an incandescent technology that easily achieves the brightness that is so difficult and expensive with CFLs and LEDs,
- and that also in transparent bulbs finds attractive uses that frosted CFLs and LEDs find impossible to emulate, among many other incandescent advantages.

Note thereby the particular irony that 100W bulbs are the first to be banned, with their simply and easily constructed bright omnidirectional performance, and indeed a warmth that in most temperate climates is another advantage (a heat effect ridiculed by government spokesmen until they talk about it's "bad effect" on air conditioning cooling - political logic, if you will).

Equally obviously,
energy savings are the main reason for energy usage standards.
The supposed amount of energy savings are in fact not there, and even if they were, there are much better and more relevant energy savings in electricity generation and distribution as well as consumption.
Given that the need to save electricity for paying consumers can be questioned in the first place, there is nothing to defend these federal regulations.

The final irony,
is that consumers as a whole will hardly save money – regardless of what the energy savings are.
That is not just in having to pay more for the light bulbs as an initial cost (or being forced to pay for them, via taxpayer CFL programs), but also because electricity companies are being subsidised or allowed to raise rates to compensate for any reduced electricity use, as already seen both federally and in California, Ohio etc, and before them in the UK and other European countries.

More on how consumers are being duped:


Tyrell Pong said...

So.... what's the problem here? You want low grade light bulbs to continue?

steven said...

good points though not surprised politicans co-operate with business rather than think of what consumers want!

Andrew Holstein said...

Since when did CHOICE come before PROFIT anyway?
Thanks Peter Good Post

Anonymous said...

So we still get to buy the Mercury bulbs. Great.

Lighthouse said...

Tyrrell... I want choice to continue!
...and energy policies to be relevant and significant
RE the subject here, see Amy Ridenour's blog post repeating the same thing:
2012 28% efficiency requirement
is not same as
2020 67% requirement
...banning all the "New" supposedly allowed incandescents.

steven said...

also see Jacob Sullum on this

steven said...

redoing last link Sullum article on bulb ban

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
wholesale lamps said...

With all those debates of the government of whats best, I hope they still give the people the power to choice of whats best for them. After all, it is the mass people decision and money to buy not them.

Continuing Education Contractor said...

LED light bulbs could very well be the next best thing in lighting. The technology is making inroads in every market, with an LED bulb for any application. LEDs have a long list of advantages over incandescent and CFL lighting. A common complaint about compact fluorescents is the ramp-up time to full brightness. Instant-on CFLs provide light instantly, but still require time to reach full brightness. LED light bulbs provide full illumination from the moment they’re turned on. It reminds me of how compact fluorescent technology slowly dominated incandescent technology. There is a similar roadblock, as well; LEDs have outlandish high prices.

Lighthouse said...

Thanks, Continuing Education Contractor

Certainly, LEDs have promise, but also problems, apart from the high price you mention:

One is to achieve omnidirectional bright 100w equivalent lighting - noting that cheaper "white LEDs" with their phosphorescent coating simply copy CFLs in light quality
On this and other issues

Another issue is their lead, nickel, arsenic etc content

Overall, of course, all types of lighting have their own advantages,
and the token energy saving ban of simple safe incandescent lighting would therefore be wrong regardless of what CFLs or LEDs or any other lighting can offer.

Anonymous said...

What authority does the federal government have to ban any lightbulb, regardless of how inefficient it may be? Since when is it required that the federal government impose its will over the choice of the people? Who cares which light is better!?!?! First ask if this is something the federal government is allowed to regulate. Too many stupid Americans get cought in the false premise of assuming the government can do it and skip right to debating whether the government should do it. NO! NO! NO! You allow the government to do your thinking for you and you submit to tyranny people. Wake the hell up! Let those of us who ejnoy incandescents to choose them. Those of us who want to buy something else should be free to choose that as well. Since when do we have to have a federal government remove an option?

Anonymous said...

I find it curious that no one in the media or green circles is talking about the health/safety issues for persons with photosensitive disabilities (ie. lupus, traumatic brain injuries, epilepsy, fms, autism spectrum d/o
retinal problems in HIV/AIDS, increased cataracts and skin diseases including malignant melanomas with the unique properties of UVA/UVB, dirty electricity and Critical Flicker Frequency of the CFLs. For more info that has been compiled, see
www.cflimpact.com and the new 2011 European Union SCENIHR preliminary report on Health Effects of Lighting, comparing all of the bulbs. In addition to making people sick, sick people worse, this policy would isolate them further without safe lighting in even their own homes (unless you count sun and candle light)

Adrian A, Romania said...

Regarding LED's - they are just becomed a competitive concurent. Check the CXA-2011 LED made by Cree - it's as bright as a 200W halogen bulb, consuming 45W - still require a heatsink, but IS CHEAP, only 15 Euro!