The ugly truth about those “Energy Efficient” light bulbs

Thomas Edison’s invention of the electric light bulb is probably the most important advancement of the late 19th century. His invention lasted for well over a century and contributed greatly to a century of progress that impacted human society, industry, and daily life the world over. And a new take on Edison’s hallmark invention will hopefully spur a return to healthy indoor light, as I’ll explain in a moment.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Edison’s invention was that it largely projected a spectrum of light that emulated the sun’s full spectrum of rays in the visible range. Modern scientists now realize seeing this full spectrum of light is critical for health and well-being.

Of course, in 2010, legions of nanny, ninny federal bureaucrats decided to extinguish this truly great invention with some kind of “great achievement” in their subsidized, taxpayer-padded lifetime careers in public service.

They wanted to make light bulbs — which represent a very small percentage of total energy consumption — a few percentage points more efficient to “save energy.” So, they mandated the switch to new compact fluorescent-type light bulbs (CFLs).

The problem is, CFLs don’t work and are actually dangerous.

Of course, faulty, dangerous products are the hallmarks of the crony capitalists’ rigged economy. (Just like many of big pharma’s new drugs about which I warn you.)

It takes a long time for CFLs to provide adequate illumination. So they create a safety hazard in closets, stairs and hallways as you must grope along in the dark, waiting many minutes for the bulbs to “warm up” after you turn them on.

When I mentioned and demonstrated this problem to a visiting European government health bureaucrat, he asked, “Why can’t you Americans just wait?”

And that’s supposed to be energy efficient?

Turning the light bulb on for a few seconds could do the job when searching in a closet. Instead, you have to wait 15 minutes to get adequate illumination to do the least little thing — wasting time and energy.

But the problems with CFLs go far beyond their lack of efficiency.

CFL bulbs are poorly designed and dangerous

CFLs also contain mercury, which is a hazard to your health and the environment. Plus, it’s impossible to dispose of, according to another band of related government nanny ninnies. And on top of these problems, some experts remain convinced CFLs emit toxic gases when in use — which are poisonous to people, children and pets.

Aside from the hazards, they are expensive — costing an average household almost $1,000 to switch over from Edison’s incandescent bulbs to these monstrosities. Finally, from an interior-decorating standpoint, they are ugly with an awkward, unattractive “curlicue” design that perhaps mimics the tortured minds and processes that produce such disasters for the American people. Or you could think of the shape as a “corkscrew,” with the usual results for the American people.

It reminds me of the old medical joke about the mother who takes her child to the pediatrician. When the doctor tells the mother that her child is “stupid,” the offended mother insists she wants a second opinion — to which the doctor replies, “he’s ugly too.”

Indeed, the CFL lightbulbs are stupid AND ugly.

The good news, is we may not have to suffer the government’s great “contribution” of new CFL light bulbs for much longer.

New technology returns to Edison’s original design

Recently, scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is a few miles from where I was raised, came up with a breakthrough that could help us return to using healthy, incandescent bulbs.

Now, that’s real progress.

The new design causes the heat energy to keep bouncing back into the bulb until it is finally released as more light. This effect massively reduces the energy the bulb would otherwise waste as heat, instead of light.

MIT researchers discovered, by sticking with Edison’s original approach, they can wrap the filament of the incandescent bulb with a photonic crystal to recycle heat energy, typically lost from a bulb, back into more light. Dr. Marin Soljacic and his team published these results in the January issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

In February, General Electric announced it would no longer make or sell the mercury-containing “compact fluorescent lights” (CFLs) mandated by the government. Instead, it will focus on a new generation of light-emitting diode (LED) lamps.

But MIT’s new incandescent bulbs are twice as efficient as LEDs, without the drawbacks of higher costs and “inconsistent” white light.

Hopefully, in the near future, it will be up to us — as consumers — to decide which type of bulb we choose to illuminate our homes.

Congress has a “light-bulb” moment

Apparently, after this latest government mandated nanny disaster, a light bulb went on in Congress.

Rep. Michael Burgess introduced the Energy Efficiency Free Market Act (HR 4504) that would prohibit nanny federal and state agencies from adopting “any requirement to comply with a standard for energy conservation or water efficiency with respect to a product.”

That last reference to water efficiency refers to limits other agencies have tried to place on the flushing of toilets. The flush toilet was perhaps the greatest invention of the last millennium in terms of convenience and comfort, not to mention sanitation and health. Thankfully, Rep. Burgess and many others think the constant interference from ever more counter-productive, costly, nanny regulations should be sent down the drain.

Burgess said, “this legislation eliminates the overreaching arm of the federal government, which continues to force itself into the households American consumers. When the market drives the standard, there’s no limit to how rapidly manufacturers can respond when consumers demand more efficient and better-made products.”

I could not have said it better myself.