What if there was a technology that could cut your electric bill, reduce the amount of coal used to create electricity and last 13 times longer than what you probably have in your house right now? Ok, I will tell you this technology is out there, and you can buy it right now in your grocery store. The compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) provides energy savings, longer life and less coal used for electricity than the incandescent bulb.
According to the California Energy Commission, a 13-watt CFL produces as much light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb while using only ¼ the amount of energy. 90% of the energy produced by incandescent bulbs comes in the form of heat, not light. Therefore, if you have many incandescents in your house, you actually can raise the inside temperature of your home. Fluorescent bulbs can also last up to 15 times longer than regular light bulbs. Replacing just ¼ of the light bulbs in your home can reduce your electric bill by up to half. Who wouldn’t want to run out and replace all their old bulbs with CFLs? The answer is: a lot of people.
When Congress tried to impose a ban on incandescent bulbs many states and consumers fought hard against this ban. Texas actually passed a measure declaring that incandescent bulbs made in the state of Texas would not be subject to the ban. Pennsylvania and South Carolina pursued similar measures. Eventually, the ban was put on hold. Bundled into the December deal that prevented a federal government shutdown was a provision preventing the Department of Energy from spending money on implementation of the incandescent bulb ban.
The main argument against the ban on old-fashioned light bulbs is that it is too much government overreach into the personal lives of citizens. This backlash against this ban is an example of the kind of resistance often met to measures that appear to be common sense and good for everyone. However, the typical consumer, particularly the typical American consumer is not always so willing to warm up to new technologies. Unwillingness to change behavior can impede the adoption of new, cleaner technologies.
Rather than imposing a ban such as the one on incandescent bulbs, another tactic that may be more useful is to initiate a campaign in favor of CFLs. Much in the way that the anti-smoking campaigns have made this behavior almost passé, a campaign explaining why CFLs are the superior technology and in particular how they can save consumers money might be a more efficient method to convince Americans to fully adopt the CFL, eventually phasing out incandescent bulbs.
California Energy Commission: http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/lighting/bulbs.html
CNN Money Report: http://money.cnn.com/2011/12/16/news/economy/light_bulb_ban/index.htm