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

Friday, June 29, 2012

Feeling the Heat: Heatball Update


The German satirical (but as it turns out, seriously undertaken) attempt at circumventing EU light bulb laws by marketing incandescent bulbs as "Heatballs" has been well covered in previous posts here, as can be seen using the search functions on the left.
The major explanatory post is "We want to shed more heat than light!".

In the ever-ongoing legal battle, the most recent decision of the local Aachen court 19th June 2012 has gone against them...though "leave to appeal" to the regional Münster court has again been given (keeping lawyers in clover).

The last newsletter message from Heatball, June 3, sets up the situation, translated roughly by Google translation further below. I corrected a little to get the gist of it across, might correct a bit more if time (German to English and vice versa particularly problematic for translation tools, given word order issues!)

Liebe Heatball Freunde,
die Elektrische Widerstandsgenossenschaft eG wird am 19.06.2012 wieder in Aachen vor dem Verwaltungsgericht in der Hauptverhandlung um die Zukunft des Heatballs kämpfen.
Was hat sich alles getan?
Im letzten Sommer hatten wir das Eilverfahren in Aachen verloren, doch seitdem hat sich einiges verändert. Das Oberverwaltungsgericht in Münster hat nun festgestellt, dass die Heatball Aktion keine Kunst ist; nun ja im Urteil des Berliner Kammergerichtes heißt es dagegen, dass der "durchschnittlich informierte Verbraucher" die Aktion als solche durchaus erkennen könne; alles eben eine Frage der Sichtweise.
In der Urteilsbegründung im Eilverfahren des VG (Verwaltungsgericht)-Aachen war die mangelnde Verbaucherinformation als Grund angegeben worden, warum der Heatball auch keine Speziallampe sein kann. Diesen Missstand hatten wir direkt nach Bekanntwerden geheilt.
Das Finanzgericht in Düsseldorf hat im Frühjahr zu unseren Gunsten entschieden und festgestellt, dass die Beschlagnahmung der Heatballs am Flughafen nicht Rechtens war. Der für die Genossenschaft entstandene Schaden durch die unnötige und rechtwidrige Zwangseinlagerung, die auf Betreiben der Bezirksregierung durch den Zoll erfolgt ist, wird uns allerdings nicht erstattet; diesen müßten wir einklagen.
Mit viel Geduld ist es uns nun gelungen, dass auch der juristische Dienst der EU-Kommission eine Stellungnahme zur Definition einer Speziallampe abgegeben hat. Wenn sich das VG-Aachen in der Hauptverhandlung hieran hält, dann dürfte dem Heatball der Titel als Speziallampe zustehen und die Ordnungsverfügung könnte aufgehoben werden. Dies wird aber aus politischen Gründen nicht passieren dürfen.
In unserem Shop haben wir derzeit Lampen der Firma Philips, die als Speziallampe anerkannt sind. Die Bezirksregierung hat prompt hiervon Warenproben genommen, die sie nicht beanstandet hat. Baugleiche Lampen waren von uns bereits in Aachen beim Eilverfahren gezeigt worden, um auf die Möglichkeiten einer Speziallampe hinzuweisen. Diese Produkte werden offensichtlicherweise von der Bezirksregierung nun als rechtskonform angesehen.
In Folge dessen werden wir nun in der übernächsten Woche die Produkte Workball
und Heatball 2.0 auf den Markt bringen und gleichzeitig der Bezirksregierung Warenproben sowie Verbraucherinformationen zukommen lassen. Da diese Produkte identisch zur Philips Speziallampe sind, würde uns die Begründung eines Verbotes sehr interessieren.

Heatball friends,
the electrical resistance is fighting on 6/19/2012 eG again in Aachen before the Administrative Court at the trial about the future of the Heat ball.

What has done it all?

Last summer we lost the fast track in Aachen, but since then a lot has changed.
The Higher Administrative Court in Münster has determined that the Heat ball action is not art, against the judgment of the Berlin Chamber Court that stated that the "average informed consumers" can see the action as such, certainly, all just a matter of perspective.
In the judgment of the VG(Verwaltungsgericht)-Aachen court, the lack of information for consumers was given as a reason why the Heat ball can not be a special lamp. This grievance we immediately fixed after the announcement.

The Tax Court in Duesseldorf in spring decided in our favor,
and found that the seizure of the Heat balls at the airport was not rightful. The resulting damage to the cooperative by the unnecessary and unlawful coercion storage, done at the behest of the District Government through customs, has not been refunded, which we have had to complain about.

With patience, we have now succeeded, that the legal departments of the European Commission have given opinion on the definition of a special lamp. If the VG-Aachen holds thereto at the coming trial, then the Heatball definition as a special lamp is expected and the public order could be lifted. For political reasons this will hardly be allowed, however.

In our shop we currently have lamps from Philips, recognized as a special lamp.
The district government has taken samples from us, but that status has not been challenged. Identical lamps had been already shown by us in Aachen in summary proceedings, to indicate the possibility of recognition as a special lamp. These products are obviously considered by the district government as legal.
As a consequence, we are now in the next week bringing out the products Work Ball and Heatball 2.0 to the market and will at the same time send samples to the district government including the consumer information. Since these products are identical to Philips special lamps, we would be very interested in any reason for a ban.

The local Aachen paper set the stage just before the court decision, article, June 18.
Article translated by Google, here.

German Zeit paper on decision, 19 June article, Google translation.

Quoting and expanding on the articles, according to current and preceding judgements, the 95% heat of the bulbs does not make them into "small heaters":
Engineer Dr Siegfried Rotthäuser and his physicist colleague Dr Rudolf Düren Hannot who are behind the Heatball action have evaluated the action as a success nonetheless.
"We have attracted attention. Now deal with the other criticisms of the incandescent ban."

As scientists, they doubt the environmental effect of the banishment of the "small, innocuous" light bulb - and they see themselves as eco-friendly, with 30 cents from each sale going to a rainforest project.

More from Dr Hannot in an earlier article, Google translation... and he is not the first physicist to criticize the token light bulb bans (eg http://ceolas.net/#li6x, http://ceolas.net/#li171x)
"They (the ruling politicians) dedicate themselves to energy-saving regulations, instead of considering where climate change really come from", he says.

Continuing the current verdict...

The Administrative Court of Aachen also looked at the 'heat balls' as household lamps in terms of the EC Regulation. The crucial factor was the purpose from a consumer perspective. From that viewpoint, the "Heat Ball" was seen as conventional incandescent lighting, and did not fall within the definition of special lamps which are allowed by the EC Regulation. Moreover, the Aachen Chamber did not see a prohibition as a violation of the fundamental right to artistic freedom.
Leave to appeal to the Higher Administrative Court of Münster was granted.


Basically then, the objection is from a marketing perspective, rather than from the bulb itself.

See the packaging below, and the writing on it.

"Nicht zur Raumbeleuchtung"...not for room lighting
Those types therefore still legal if actually sold for lighting purpose ;-)

Their bulbs were basically legal Chinese made "rough service" type incandescent imports, and the new Philips line are similarly defined legal as quoted - that is, legally sold as "lighting" elsewhere in Europe as in the USA for the time being (the law will likely gradually tighten also in the EU, given the parallell ongoing halogen bans).

An irony, as said before, is that the legal incandescent bulb types sold by Heatball and some American distributors "waste" more energy, than their now illegal equivalents of the same brightness (longer lifespan but needing higher wattage for same brightness as the pre-ban bulbs).
Add that to all the other lack of logic of current lighting regulations, pushing complex questionably safe CFL and other replacements for well known simple regular bulbs...

No bulb satire needed ... the laws are satirical enough as they are ;-)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Getting a Blast out of Incandescents

Originally seen on Kevan's Save the Bulb blog,
this, er, "educational" game has since been updated...

Strange things happen in America

...a major Minnesota based energy company with a broad portfolio of generating assets including Coal and Nuclear have launched “Bulb Blasters”, a free iPhone game that uses a variety of compact fluorescent “weapons” to blast incandescent lamp based flying saucers. I couldn’t resist this however can report that it is possibly the worst implementation of a classic Space Invaders video game that you could possibly imagine. Maybe they should have spent their money on some proper research in cleaning up their Coal fired generating capacity or saving it for decommissioning their nuclear plants!

The game can be downloaded for Google Android or Apples iTunes devices from

It was developed by Voltage digital applications company for Xcel Energy...
From their iPhone apps page:

We’re excited to announce a new iPhone app developed by VOLTAGE for Xcel Energy is now available in the App Store. The FREE game – Bulb Blasters recalls the good ol’ fashioned awesomeness of 80′s arcade play as you try and blast less efficient incandescent bulbs off the screen with your energy saving CFL Cannon...

The Bulb blasters site modestly expands...


Embark on a futuristic mission to defeat the Incandescent Drones that suck over 75% more energy than an efficient CFL bulb.

Conquer the inefficiency of incandescent light bulbs by blasting them out of the sky with a Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb Cannon. Along the way you’ll learn triumphant facts about how CFLs save you energy, save you money, and can help save the universe from the evils of inefficiency.
Fight your way through futuristic worlds filled with incandescent invaders.
Learn to save without sacrifice every where around your home by connecting to Xcel Energy via Facebook, Twitter, and ResponsibleByNature.com.

What's New in Version 1.1
Take the battle against inefficiency to the next level.
Blast your way through to the mothership, and liberate lighting efficiency once and for all!

The company behind it is therefore Xcel Energy...

they profile themselves as follows...

Xcel Energy is a U.S. investor-owned electricity and natural gas company with regulated operations in eight Midwestern and Western states. Based in Minneapolis, Minn., we provide a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services through our four wholly owned utility subsidiaries.

More specifically related to the game is their subsite
ResponsibleByNature.com, a site dedicated to energy saving tips.
These include tips specific to lighting, in turn including a series of videos.
The videos tell you how all light bulbs have advantages, including incandescents, for different uses and locations! (oh alright... they tell you you should change all your bulbs...).


Whatever about the game itself,
note the underlying message from a plethora of Government sites, from Environment organizations and from Energy companies to You, the Citizen:

"Hey, save lots of money by cutting down on energy use!"

So what's so wrong with that?
Except it handily replaces how consumers could really save money on their electricity bills - by subjecting electricity companies to supply competition in the grids.
Even better, from future smart grid and metering changes to allow easier switching between suppliers also in real time (a much more cost relevant use for such meters, rather than today's flustered politicians praising them because "they can tell you if you left a light bulbs on").

Today's policians and their hangaround environmental cronies subscribe to massive upfront
cost exercises in for example grid changes needed to accomodate intermittent wind and solar supplies, and still more to back up such energy with conventional base loading alternatives:
Utilities happily benefit from the relevant energy and grid subsidies, paid for by consumers as taxpayers.
[Yes, environmental considerations may necessitate generation and grid changes, but that could be handled very differently, with greater effectiveness and less consumer impact as covered on Ceolas.net, first section]

Utilities profit still more from the current policy:
Just as the neutral observer can - and should- question why major light bulb manufacturers welcome being told what they can or can't make i.e. so expensive patented bulbs can be offloaded to choice-deprived consumers,
so utilities can happily offload expensive electricity to choice-deprived consumers.
Hence all the necessitated "save energy and save on your bill" promotional campaigns.

But wait, it gets better...
Often the utilities have a stake in or control the supplying grids,
and if captive customers reduce energy use the utilities can simply raise the price and squeeze more money out of the customers... increasing profits without having to expand the grid to seek new customers.
Regulators? That is precisely what US/EU state regulators are allowing, as referenced below.

Better still,
the utilities are getting (still more) state subsidies in advance for the calculated expected sales loss from an energy consumption reduction, an energy usage reduction which, as seen from the Deception summary on this site and more expansively explained on Ceolas.net, is hardly likely: But hey, that's money already in energy company executive pockets!
And yes, that includes subsidy agreement with Governments to push "energy saving bulbs" and other knick-knacks on customers who would otherwise not buy them.

As extensively referenced http://ceolas,.net/#li1ax onwards, US California, Ohio, Washington, Canada BC, and EU Britain examples.

The bottom line is that you, the reader, are being screwed:
Screwed by your politician, screwed by your friendly environmental organization, screwed by your light bulb manufacturer and screwed by your electricity supplier, all singing off the same hymn sheet in happy unison.

So with any screwable incandescent in turn disappearing from view, why not play at finishing the job with that game there... ;-)

Monday, June 25, 2012

USA Light Bulb Law "Wattages not Legalized"

An obscure and seemingly unknown link to video legal research into the actual light bulb regulation adjustments to US law.

Claims that they forgot to actually enter the wattage equivalents into the relevant legal text! (the standards are of course lumen based but still have wattage references...) True or not, the lumen based regulations already, as previously explained, raises their own absurdity  >> US Regulation Absurdity: Dim 100W bulbs allowed, Bright 100W bulbs banned!  >> The Good, the Bright, and the Dim ...such that dim 100 or 75 W bulbs are legal for the time being (restrictions will apply with time), and bright ones illegal. This is made use of by "rough service" and "high voltage" incandescents currently marketed in the USA as "saving consumers money because they have longer lifespans". As per above links, this is a fallacy, since 1 dim - currently legal- bulb lasting say 5000 hours drawing 100W uses a lot more energy and costs more than 5 equivalently bright regular - banned! - 75 Watt bulbs lasting 1000 hours each.... USA, EU, Canada, Australia light bulb regulations   http://ceolas.net/#li01inx US state exemption bills (legalized Texas June 2011)   http://ceolas.net/#bills  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fact: Americans Brighter than Europeans!


Well, at least certain types of bulbs are... ;-)

Few people seem to know just how much brighter 110-120 volt driven bulbs are, than their 220-240 volt equivalents, a very noticeable difference.

Rounding off typical values,
a 100W American bulb gives out 1800 lumens, the European equivalent 1300 lumens.

Put another way,
a 75W US bulb (1100-1200 lumen) is closer to the European 100W bulb,
conversely, the 100W US bulb is close to a European 150W bulb (2000 lumen).

"Dimmest" of all are the Brits...
At least in theory, given 240 volt rated mains voltage and with imported bulbs rated 230 volt or 220-240 volt in lumen value, so as to also correspond to other European countries.
In return, the British bulbs should last slightly longer.

That is also why 100W US bulbs were commonly (pre-ban) only rated 750 hours,
compared to 1000 hours for EU 100W bulbs, and 1000 hours for 60W and other lesser wattages, regardless of origin.

image Ronald Hudson  123rf.com

Both energy and cost wise, "brightness wins" over lifespan trade-offs:

Look at the new fad of selling "legal long lasting incandescents" in the USA, as 130 volt bulbs, or as rough service bulbs, the latter also in the EU.
While they may only be a temporary workaround for those seeking to use incandescents
(imports and sales are monitored, at least in theory in the USA, given the current ban on oversight funding as covered in previous posts, see below), there is as mentioned an irony here: They use much more energy than equivalently bright banned incandescents!

This is easy to work out once you start taking a 100 watt long-lasting legal incandescent
and work out the energy usage of shorter lasting 75 watt legal incandescents
- bulb cheapness means that even using up 5, 10 or more bulbs for 1 long-lasting bulb,
the overall cost as well as energy use is much higher with the legal kind.
A worked example is covered in the http://ceolas.net/#li01inx section,
also in the post "US Regulation Absurdity: Dim 100W bulbs allowed, Bright 100W bulbs banned!"

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Many Lights make Handy Work"

As posted on Send Your Light Bulbs to Washington...

Well, that's probably around the number of fluorescent bulbs it does take...
.... to give same brightness as from one of the banned 100W incandescents ;-)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

House passes Light Bulb Amendment to Bill


The funding block of the oversight of American federal light bulb regulations, due to expire Sep 30, has been covered in several posts on this blog.
The last post here also covers Texan Congressman Michael Burgess's reasoning for proposing, and seeking to extend, this amendment.

It was indeed voted through yesterday for another year by the House of Representatives.
However, presumably like the last amendment, the Senate will have input on this - though most likely they will simply let it pass, and for similar reasons...

Senate Democrat spokesmen like outgoing Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman have previously pointed out the small actual effects of the funding block, and it is true that major manufacturers and distributors are unlikely to want to take chances in skirting federal law on import and manufacture, and are likely to want to pursue the greater profits of alternative bulb sales anyway - after all, the manufacturers sought and welcomed the ban, on admitted profit motives (http://ceolas.net/#li1ax onwards).
Also, as in the EU, one can expect retailers and others to have extensively stocked up, which again delays any ban impact, since sales of existing stock is not banned.

However, when states like Texas and possibly soon South Carolina (see local US repeal ban bills, http://ceolas.net/#bills) pass local laws allowing local manufacture and sale, it may encourage smaller operations selling the easily locally made simple incandescents.
It also of course "sends a message" about the justification of the ban itself, ahead of the presidential and congress elections this fall.

A good summary post by Erika Johnsen at Hot Air, linking to various reports.

House votes, again,
to delay enforcement of traditional light bulb ban

Last night, the House approved [link to The Hill report] of two amendments that will further stay the enforcement of the infamously intrusive incandescent light-bulb ban.
In a voice vote, the House approved an amendment to the Energy and Water spending bill for 2013 that would prevent the Department of Energy from spending money to enforce a 2007 law that sets bulb efficiency standards. The law bans the sale of 100 watt incandescent bulbs and will ban the sale of 75 watt traditional bulbs in July 2013.

This year, like last year, the amendment was sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), who said the federal government should not be in the business of requiring certain light bulbs to be used.

“We shouldn’t be making these decisions for the American people,” Burgess said on the House floor. Burgess added that his amendment was approved last year and signed into law by President Obama, after which the House quickly passed his amendment again.

I like that the House Republicans are sticking with the regulatory travesty that is the incandescent light bulb ban, the only problem being that just delaying enforcement of the ban, instead of actually repealing it, only creates more uncertainty for businesses. It’s the best they can do with the state of the legislative branch being what it is at the moment, but manufacturers have already started battening down the hatches in preparation of the ban and moving away from production of normal light bulbs. A mere short-term guarantee just isn’t going to do much for them. Bloomberg has more:
Even if the House language approved last night survives in the Democratic-led Senate, the impact for consumers probably will be limited because manufacturers such as Royal Philips Electronics NV (PHIA) and General Electric Co. (GE) have revamped manufacturing to comply with the law, making bulbs that use less electricity to generate the same amount of light. …

“The law couldn’t be enforced,” Burgess said of his amendment in an interview. “‘We don’t need no stinkin’ badges. We’re the energy police.’”

Blocking the Energy Department from enforcement might let unscrupulous foreign manufacturers push non-compliant products, including to bulk buyers such as builders. Those sales are difficult to track.

“Some in Congress are willing to put U.S. jobs at risk for political positioning,” said Joseph Higbee, a spokesman for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, a Rosslyn, Virginia-based group. “This is an example of a few politicizing light bulbs at the risk of American workers and the economy.”

Democrats are trying to spin this as if Republicans are ignoring the effect on American jobs. They contend that the delay will allow Americans to purchase traditional light bulbs from foreign manufacturers instead of the American manufacturers who make the new energy efficient light bulbs, but let’s just knock that notion on the head right now.

Buying American, just for the sake of buying American, does not help to create jobs — free trade and buying goods from wherever they are produced most cheaply and efficiently leads to good-for-all economic growth that creates actual, productive jobs. If Democrats really cared for American jobs and the health of the overall economy, maybe they should stop sticking up for a law that forces people to buy certain goods that they wouldn’t be choosing to buy in the free market. (Really, now — “unscrupulous” foreign manufacturers? They’re just meeting an existing demand, for crying out loud.)

image  dailyworldwidenews.com

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Update on Rik Gheysens CFL study

Update on the Update, June 7.... see Kevan comments below

As covered on Send Your Light Bulbs to Washington, following up on the previously mentioned mercury in fluorescent bulbs study

Relating to the post May 17 Research Report: Mercury in Fluorescent Lighting, the author has let us know some recent news on his website
(slight editing of the translation used):

May 2012

Website Test-Aankoop, May 24 2012:
CFLs (in the lab and in the waste collect centers): not always energy saving or environmentally friendly

In the June issue of the periodical "Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats", 13 double shell compact fluorescent lamps with a brightness between 500 and 700 lumen and with an E-27 fitting were investigated.

Some conclusions are:
A certain model should, according to the packaging, have a lifetime of 8000 hours (= 8 years).
Four of the five test samples were already broken down before they burned 5000 hours.
The only still burning lamp reached at that moment only 70% of its brightness.

A sample of another model failed already after burning 1800 hours.
" The samples which reached 5000 hours, had lost at that moment more 35% to even 80% of their brightness. Moreover, this lamp could hardly be switched on and off 5000 times."
This lamp can actually no longer be named a 'low-energy light bulb'.

The Belgian newspaper "De Morgen", May 25, 2012:
"CFLs are not always environmentally friendly"

In the June issue of the periodical "Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats", 13 [double shell] CFLs were investigated.

The results are:
No lamp reached half the full intensity of light within 30 seconds.
"These teething troubles can no longer be justified ", said spokesman Ivo Mechels.

The lifetime of the lamps does not appear to correspond to the promised lifetime on the packaging. "Six of the thirteen species scored very poorly", said Mechels.

The collection of broken bulbs is not always as it should.
"They usually end up in an ordinary plastic bin. In places lay broken lamps. That mercury is released in this way, is hardly realized."

Another Belgian newspaper "De Standaard", May 25, 2012, writes: "The CFL is almost dead"
" CFLs are less efficient and ecological than their manufacturers try to make you believe.
And they seem to have lost faith in them themselves."
Ivo Mechels of Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats:
"CFLs are more sparing and last longer than conventional incandescent bulbs.
But they still have teething problems that (no longer) should be allowed.
This is no new technology anymore, so manufacturers can no longer hide (behind that idea)."

According to Stefaan Forment, researcher of the Laboratory of Lighting Technology of Ghent's Catholic College St Lieven, manufacturers seem to believe much more in LED lamps...

Kevan at Savethebulb.org adds, taken from a June 6 post:

CFL fail again!

The Belgian consumer organisation Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats published their report on CFLi [Google translated version] on May 24th. This organisation buy products from retail sources and have undertaken long term tests with rather disappointing but not unexpected results. This is exactly what individual governments in the EU are supposed to be doing to ensure that the products on the market meet the requirements of the Eco Design legislation however seem to be failing at.

The major problem identified was the time to full light output. Of the lamps tested none achieved 20% of full output within 10 second and none achieved 50% of full output within 30 seconds, the test sample included one lamp claiming to be “Quick Start” however its performance was no better than the others.

Life testing proved equally disappointing, one model of lamp with a claimed 8,000 hour life. 4 out of 5 tested lamps failed within 5,000 hours the remaining lamps only producing 70% of its claimed light output at that time. One example of another type tested failed after 1,800 hours others in that batch that were still operating at 5,000 hours only produced between 20% and 65% of initial light output.

Start up speed, life and light output at end of life are included in the requirements of the Ecodesign legislation. We have to ask why are these not being enforced with the same stringency as the ban on sale of incandescent lamps? The lamp industry is clearly losing interest in CFLi with a major push towards LED based lamp replacements that seem likely to deliver much higher profits than CFLi or incandescent judging by the current excessive retail prices for them.

Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats also tested the recycling process by taking dead CFLi lamps to various container recycling sites. In the 34 recycling sites in Belgium that accept hazardous waste they found that the lamps were deposited in general hazardous waste with the staff at the centre left with the problem of separating lamps for processing by Recupel, the company responsible for lamps an Waste electrical and electronic goods. They also found that many fluorescent lamps were being broken and therefore discharging mercury vapour at the container sites with no real precautions being taken to protect workers or visitors to the sites. They reported their findings to Recupel and the Ministry responsible.

Good points by Kevan.
The profit motive for banning simple cheap patent expired bulbs should not be forgotten, and LEDs, as mentioned below, may be even "better" in that regard...

Comment (as in original post)

As seen on Rik Gheysens news page,
it has more information going back in time - as with the EU (Swedish) scandal of unrecycled dumped fluorescent light bulbs end 2011, also covered in a report on the Ceolas.net website.

As for LED lighting being so much better, that is not necessarily so:
RGB types are effectively combinations of pure red green and blue sources, without the smooth light output spectrum of incandescents.
Meanwhile the now popular and generally simpler/cheaper "white LEDs" have additional issues from effectively mimicking the light quality of fluorescents, that is, from bluey (relatively bright) type LED source light hitting phosphorescent wall coating.

More on LED issues here.
And that is of course without going into the not always warranted "great upfront expense for long term savings", for many less often used bulbs.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Texas Hold Em
... and Congressmen Fight for Federal Rights


While it nearly happened in Arizona under Governor Brewer, and a South Carolina bill
is now almost due to go to Governor Haley, Texas became the first state to legalize local manufacture and sale of federally banned incandescent bulbs, from a bill brought by George Lavender, Marva Beck, Cindy Burkett and Bryan Hughes in the spring of 2011, as seen passing relatively rapidly through the legislature, to be signed into law by Governor Perry in June (more on state as well as federal light bulb bills, http://ceolas.net/#bills).

Local legislation of American states (immigration, health care, guns, marijuana...) are constantly subject to challenge federally, but there is also the morality involved, so that in this case, if California can apply their own light bulb laws, other states should be able to do the same.
Of course, a common (federal) legislative view on the federal v local issue (as also applied in the European Union) is that local laws may be stricter though not more lenient than federal laws - but that still does not take away the morality involved:
If local laws are allowed in the first place, then they should take precedence, more lenient or not - while if local laws are deemed unsuitable, then obviously Americans should all be subject to the same law, Californian citizens just like Texans.
A wider issue in such "subsidiarity" debate is of course who decides whether laws should be made federally or not: In the USA as in the EU, and for that matter Canada, Australia and similar legislatures with strong regional governance, it is unsurprisingly resented that it should be decided federally if federal laws apply, rather than locally (devolvement upwards rather than downwards of legislative rights). Federal cohesion versus local democracy....

Returning to the light bulb issue,
the arguments in this blog are of course that regulation laws are wrong in the first place, federally or not, and it is perhaps not by chance in the USA that not only has Texas led the way in local legislation, but that Texan representatives in Washington have tended to lead the way and act in support: Joe Barton, Michael Burgess, Ron Paul, Ted Poe, Bill Flores, Blake Farenthold, Randy Neugebauer, Louis Gohmert, Pete Olson, and in the Senate John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison.
It "even" included the support of local Democrat Congress representative Eddie Johnson for a while, until persuaded otherwise on a particularly hot partisan regulatory issue, that former Democrat speaker Nancy Pelosi from California and allies are equally keen to uphold and indeed make stricter, as seen from their efforts to pass stricter federal bills as well as from the stricter local regulations legislated for California (all of which incidentally continually gets ignored in the media, in their ranting about "only right wing politicians caring about light bulbs").

Ironically - as also covered in a comment to the below article - regulations are as wrong on left wing as on right wing ideology, in particlar for a bankrupt state like California, that could gain massive income from taxing certain energy using buildings, cars, TV sets, washing machines, light bulbs and all other products they now simply ban on energy usage consideration - and they could liberally defend that taxation on the basis that it would help pay for price lowering subsidies on energy saving alternatives - so "people are not just hit by taxes".
Market competition is better still, also to save energy, as considered on the Ceolas site (http://ceolas.net#li23x) and returned to below, but the point is how regulations are a bad choice regardless of ideology.

What then of the current federal situation?
The good efforts of Texan Congressman Michael Burgess and allies to amend the 2007 EISA light bulb legislation by blocking the oversight funding of it, has been covered in previous posts. The currrent amendment runs out September 30. A new amendment is therefore under way, as mentioned in the post: "Bright Burgess Bulb Bill Block... part 2".

Dr. Burgess was interviewed about his stance on May 31 by Minjae Park of The Texas Tribune. Relevant sections:

Michael Burgess: The TT Interview

Many issues energize both sides in Congress, especially those that touch on the role of government. One issue that particularly riles some Republicans: lightbulbs.

Specifically, efficiency standards for lightbulbs set by a 2007 law that ended the sale of the common 100-watt incandescent bulb.

When the House takes up spending bills in the coming weeks to keep the federal government running in the next fiscal year, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, will offer an amendment to block funding to the Department of Energy for the implementation of the higher lightbulb efficiency standards, he told the Tribune.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed into law by then-President George W. Bush, does not ban the sale or use of incandescent lightbulbs but requires that manufacturers make them 25 percent more efficient. Higher efficiency standards that went into effect Jan. 1 ended the import and manufacture of 100-watt incandescent bulbs. (Stores are allowed to sell remaining inventory.)

Burgess has a history of fighting the 2007 law, along with fellow Texas Congressman Joe Barton, R-Ennis. In 2010, both lawmakers, with Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, introduced a bill to repeal the section in the law that creates the efficiency standards. That bill died in committee. Barton tried to advance a similar bill last July but couldn’t garner enough votes.

Burgess then introduced a narrower measure last July that passed: an amendment to the energy and water spending bill to block the Department of Energy from spending money toward implementing the efficiency standards.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor placed the energy and water spending bill on his calendar for Thursday and Friday under “possible consideration.” Once the bill comes to the House floor, Burgess will introduce his amendment.

Burgess explained his opposition to the 2007 law in an interview with the Tribune. The following is an edited version of the transcript.

TT: Last year, you introduced an amendment to the appropriations bill. Do you have something planned this year?

Burgess: Yes.

TT: Exactly the same thing?

Burgess: Correct. It’s the Energy and Water Appropriations bill. And it’s to prevent the Department of Energy from spending any funds for the enforcement of the ban on the 100-watt incandescent bulb.

TT: Why is this an issue you care about?

Burgess: For one thing, it’s the government exercising power nobody ever intended to give them in the first place. We can all be okay with increasing the efficiency of our lightbulbs. That’s ultimately a good thing. But the mandatory or compulsory purchase of those by excluding the availability of the older and cheaper technology was really a step too far, and it also was compounded by the fact that there was no bridging mechanism.

In 2007, perhaps people thought that in five years, the newer technologies would be available at a price point that made them competitive but the fact of the matter is they aren’t. Lacking any type of flexibility in the legislation, it seems unreasonable to make people pay the kind of price differential that they will have to shell out in order to get a comparable lumens from the newer technology bulb.

TT: So it’s not that you have anything against fluorescent bulbs, except for the prices.

Burgess: This is not so much about pro- or anti-fluorescent. Now, there are some people that are concerned with mercury in the compact fluorescent bulb. There is newer technology coming along with other things that will allow lightbulbs to meet the energy standards without the reliance on the compact fluorescent design. But there, again, the biggest obstacle is the cost of these newer technology incandescents that are able to meet the government’s requirement for number of watts burned per lumen produced, but the cost is about a hundred times what it was for the older incandescent bulbs.

TT: And those costs aren’t covered by the eventual savings?

Burgess: One of these new Philips bulbs that burns 72 watts for the same lumens as a 100 watt (incandescent) bulb — that costs $60 apiece. I don’t think I’d live long enough to recoup the savings.

TT: Sen. Jeff Bingaman (the New Mexico Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee) says that cutting off funding will have little effect because lightbulb manufacturers have been working toward these standards for many years.

Burgess: Fine, that’s just great. But to the extent that they have existing stock in the warehouses and want to be able to sell them at your local hardware store, they will be able to do so without running afoul of the enforcement people at the Department of Energy. That’s all my little amendment does. It keeps them safe while they sell these stores of existing technology.

TT: What is it that you’re hoping to achieve on this issue?

Burgess: What got people so upset about this was the government wading into an area where it didn’t have any business in the first place. Let me make my own decisions about how much energy I purchase and how I use that energy. It’s not that I have anything against energy efficiency as a concept or as a practice. I drive a hybrid car. When my wife and I built our house in 2005, we put dimmer switches on every light in the house because we wanted to be able to control the amount of light that we used in a given room at a given time. Now I’m being told that it’s not good enough for me to have that freedom and that ability to control. The government wants to do it for me. Well, that’s what drives people over the edge. There’s no reason for that. Let me make my decisions about how many kilowatt hours I consume and I’ll be a better arbiter about that than Dr. Chu and his folks at the Department of Energy.

TT: You mentioned some of the things you’ve been doing personally, and I’m curious, what kind of lightbulbs do you use? Were you one of the people who stocked up on incandescent bulbs at the end of last year before the law went into effect this Jan. 1?

Burgess: That would be my son, and he will sell you a bunch of those at a hefty markup. I have compact fluorescent bulbs that I use in my home. I have LEDs that I use. But let’s be honest, in order to get the output form current technology LED bulbs, you’ve got to spend a significant amount of money for that bulb. The two LED bulbs I put outside my backdoor several years ago are little better than Christmas lights out there. They perform perhaps a decorative service, but they’re not really doing much as far as illuminating the path of the staircase or even keeping my home burglar-free. The output is simply inconsistent with anything that I had before when I had incandescent bulbs out there. There’s another area where I did purchase a more expensive LED that I leave burning overnight to shine on the flag and I thought that was a nice patriotic decision. That’s not the government telling me how to do or what to do with that.

TT: Is this an issue you’ve heard from your constituents about?

Burgess: You bet. First and foremost, they’re upset about the federal government taking power that didn’t belong to it in the first place. But I’ve got people who are entrepreneurs, who sell fashion lighting and designer lighting and their place in the market has just about been eliminated because these very expensive bulbs that are coming online, the market’s dried up, their ability to mark up a product and combine it with a decorative, fashion-conscious lamp is, I mean, it’s just gone away.

So the market’s disappeared and it’s disappeared because of action that Congress took in 2007. Was it really necessary in the grand scheme of things? I’ll submit to you that no, it was not. This was a solution in search of a problem, and as a consequence, we’ve hurt real people on the ground.

TT: The particular amendment that you would offer, that would just be on the funding side of it. It wouldn’t be about repealing the law that passed in 2007, right?

Burgess: There were other attempts to do that. They failed. My last ditch attempt was, “oh for heaven’s sake, let’s not punish anybody if they sell 100-watt incandescent bulbs in their hardware store.” And that’s what my amendment did. Now, like anything else, think about the ban on offshore drilling that was essentially an amendment that had to be renewed every year. The Hyde Amendment, banning the use of federal funds for the termination of pregnancy, had to be renewed every year. So there’s plenty of precedent in Congress for doing something on an appropriations bill every year to keep a practice going or to prevent a practice you don’t want to see happen. So this is no different from some of those other things.

TT: Your goal ultimately would be to get a repeal of the law.

Burgess: That’s not possible with the current makeup of the Senate. That’s not possible with the current occupant in the White House. But, yes, should some of those things change, then you bet I could go to work on that again in a heartbeat.


While the regulation and amendment has been extensively covered already here
(as can be searched on the left), it needs repeating in the sectarian US political climate that regulations are a bad idea whether from right wing or left wing political perspective.
That is, energy usage regulations on buildings, cars, washing machines etc as well as light bulbs. Energy usage mandates affect characteristics on all these products, as described (http://ceolas.net/#cc21x and onwards):
There is No Free Lunch, not even for Washington Bureaucrats!

Whether market competition or taxation, both policies are better (from the "liberal" tax perspective, the latter also helps pay for lower prices on alternatives and other energy subsidies and spending that such politicians favor).
Both policies keep choice, both policies save more energy overall:

Friday, June 1, 2012

Howard Brandston interviewed on CBN

CBN News video and transcript article, June 1, including a Mark Martin interview with well known lighting designer Howard Brandston, of whom more in the Resource Links and earlier posts on this blog.

Some of the transcript:

Lights Out: Congress Making 100-Watt Power Grab?

For more than 130 years, Thomas Edison's incandescent bulb has lit up homes around the world. Now, the light bulb as we know it may soon be a thing of the past.

Beginning this year, the federal government plans to phase out traditional incandescent light bulbs. The first to go is the 100-watt bulb.

It's all a part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Republicans in Congress are fighting its enactment. But if they fail, the law will go into effect later this year.

Is this an energy-saving move or another example of a government power grab?

Energy-Saving Move?

The law requires basic light bulbs to be about 25 percent more efficient and would remove traditional incandescent bulbs from the market.

"I think it's very wise because maybe 40 or 50 years ago, it wouldn't have worked because there weren't alternatives," Sandra Miles, a veteran of the telecommunications and lighting industries and president of the Goeken Group Corp., told CBN News.

"But now you have plenty of great energy efficient alternatives that give you the same look and feel of an incandescent," she explained.

Those alternatives primarily fall into two categories: CFLs, known for their curly shape, and light-emitting diodes or LEDs. They're supposed to save energy and last a lot longer than traditional light bulbs.

However, lighting professional Howard Brandston isn't ready to give up on a bulb that's not broken. Brandston is known for lighting structures like the Statue of Liberty and Malaysia's twin towers.

Brandston stands by Edison's invention, using traditional incandescent bulbs to light his home.

Save the Bulb

Under current law, the standard 100-watt incandescent light bulb is to be phased out this year, a move he strongly opposes.
In fact, Brandston considers it a moral obligation to speak out against the phasing out of incandescent bulbs.
He's even launched a campaign entitled, Save the Bulb.

"Look at all the people who have lost their homes," he told CBN News. "Look at all the people who are out of work. Look at all of that, and now we're going to impose a new... a new financial burden on them."

On his website, Brandston wrote, "I see no good reason to relegate one of America's greatest inventions to the dustbin of history -- other than to suit the particular interests of uninformed politicians, light manufacturing giants, and their lobbyists, and energy zealots."

"I know a couple of senior researchers in the lighting industry, who've started to hoard light bulbs, and me included, because I might not win this fight, although I'm dedicated to it," he said.

That dedication includes a lifetime supply of bulbs stored in his basement.

Light Bulb Socialism

Miles hopes the attraction of energy savings and long life will win over consumers.

Brandston bases his skepticism on the uninterrupted, smooth color spectrum emitted by Edison's safe, low-cost bulb.

But his opinion may not matter unless the new effort by conservatives in Congress can stall what has been called "light bulb socialism."