Regina Corcoran's - "Pursuing the American Dream"
Sunday, September 25, 2011
And the bulbs look funny, too

Remember December of 2007? Seems like just yesterday, right? That's when our federal legislators passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

It calls for a phase out (or ban?) of incandescent bulbs between 2012 and 2014. I guess it's a phase out during 2012, 2013 and 2014. After that, it's a ban.

Starting in January, 2012 -- that's only 97 shopping days away -- the phase out of existing technology incandescent bulbs will start with the 100 watt bulbs, followed by the 75 watt bulbs in 2013 and the 60 and 40 watt bulbs in 2014.

(The federal legislation did stipulate 23 exclusions to the phase out such as bulbs that go in appliances, colored lamps, three-way incandescent lamps, certain globe-shaped bulbs, the small candelabra lamps and others.)

Here's the good news. The most prevalent replacement for incandescent bulbs will probably be compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), along with the light emitting diode (LED) lamps, some halogen lamps and electron stimulated luminescence (ESL) lamps.

CFL bulbs can last for years. That's a good thing, because they cost a lot more than incandescent bulbs. At the local hardware store, you can buy 16 incandescent bulbs for $2.97, while two CFL bulbs cost $6.47. That's 18 cents each vs. $3.23 each.

The CFL bulb is rated for nine years, however. It also purports to save $87 in energy costs. Of special interest to us in warm, sunny Florida, the CFLs are cooler to operate.

So, while I've never been one to concentrate on recycling, composting or growing my own tomatoes, when an incandescent bulb burns out, I do replace it with a CFL bulb.

This year, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas and 14 other Republicans introduced the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act (BULB) to repeal this part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Why? Because of the bad news. One of the largest manufacturers of the CFL bulbs is in China. This legislation means loss of U.S. jobs at a time when it is least tolerable. Also, the CFL bulbs contain a little mercury. The manufacturers insist this is a non-issue as long as you don't break one (ahem!). The mercury presents a disposal problem, too. Getting rid of a CFL is like playing hot potato.

In addition, there are some aesthetic problems. The literati say CFLs simply don't show colors in the best light. The designers describe the light from CFLs as "cold, flat, unnatural, dull light." And so, fine art collectors and interior designers are stockpiling incandescent bulbs.

CFL bulbs can't be used with lights that have dimmer switches nor can they be used in enclosed fixtures. Also, while incandescent bulbs turn on instantly, it takes time for CFLs to rise and shine.

And some with Lupus and migraine conditions are claiming that they are CFL "intolerant."

Oh, yes, and let's not forget: they're funny looking.

The end of incandescent bulbs is right around the corner. Should we be staging a retirement ceremony? Twenty years from now, will children want to know what that funny looking thing in the attic light socket is? Or should it be a revolt? Is this another chance for the public to accuse the federal government of misguided "nannyism"? Many of us don't need and don't want government to hold the tissue to our nose and tell us to blow.

Regina E. Corcoran, SRA, is a Florida real estate broker, state-certified residential appraiser and residential contractor. She is president of AmeriRealty Corp. and vice president of AmeriMortgage Corp. She can be reached at Corcoran writes her column exclusively for The Citizen. It appears every other Sunday.