NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Light Bulbs Have Disadvantages

June 9, 2011

Incandescent light bulbs are being phased out by wattage over a two-year period, starting January 2012.  The reason for ending the use of incandescent bulbs is to save energy.  Without traditional light bulbs, Americans will be left to choose between three different types of new bulbs: compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), halogens and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).  But compact fluorescents, halogen bulbs and LEDs all have disadvantages, says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

The new bulbs are expensive -- today a conventional 100-watt bulb costs 58 cents on, compared with $2 for a CFL and $8.50 for a halogen.  In addition, compact fluorescents present disposal problems because they contain mercury.

  • If a CFL breaks, the Environmental Protection Agency instructions include leaving a room for 15 minutes and turning off forced air heating and cooling.
  • Then, bulb remnants should not be swept up with a broom or vacuum cleaner, but carefully scooped up using stiff paper and placed in a canning jar or sealed plastic bag.
  • Afterwards, sticky tape or wet wipes should be used to collect the last fragments.

This is not something most people want to do when they drop a light bulb.  They just want to sweep it up, throw it in the trash, and get on with their day.  Consumers should be free to choose the light bulbs they prefer, says Furchtgott-Roth.

Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "A Call For Light Bulb Sanity," Real Clear Markets, June 2, 2011.

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