Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Green Light - Red Light Part Deux

On paper… or at least in all the screaming “green” websites, CFL’s seem not only like a great idea, but the only way for a responsible natural nerd to go. They have reported lifespan exceeding 10,000 hours, the prices are dropping, and their environmental impacts are huge. So…. Off to the store to buy 42 bulbs and happily plug them in?

Not so fast. – Come on, work with me here. If it was that simple… why would anyone still be making the old Edison model? Why would any country allow the use of the luminescent dinosaur if its so dangerous and is easy to make the switch? Contrary to what a lot of environmental sites would like to claim, I honestly don’t believe there are arch villains running around trying to destroy the world. The Roach People are not micromanaging the downfall of the human race, and neither are the Republicans. The planet goes… we go. This is something we can all agree on, no matter what our other beliefs may be. It’s a daily struggle for NASA to keep the bits and pieces of the space station up that is already in orbit. We’re not ready to blast off and strip mine any other planets just yet. Give us a few decades, but for now, if it all goes Kaboomie, we’re sitting on the fireworks pile. That being the case, if it’s a perfect solution… why isn’t it everywhere… and why isn’t it mandatory?

I’ll grant, one big factor is price. When I say that the CFL’s prices are dropping, I don’t mean they are cheap yet. While they no longer cost $19.99+ per bulb, they are still a significant price hike from plain jane incandescent light bulbs. I can wander towards my local discount shop and pick up a 4-pack of light bulbs for under a dollar. The cheapest place I’ve found for CFL’s – not searching the internet – is the 15.16 for a 6-pack that my local Wallyworld wants. There’s quite a bit of a difference in $2.52(ish) per bulb and a quarter per bulb. I want to save the world as much as the next gal… but is the hike worth it? While you save money in the long run – $1,306.94 if you remember – you have to outlay the cost at the beginning. And the money is saved over time, it’s not the “found” money that the cheering throng of CFL supporters makes it seem. That money is $1,306.94 less that I would be charged over the 6,000 hour lifetime of ALL the bulbs combined. No one is writing me a check for $1,300, this is not going to be something I can deposit in the bank.

I have maybe 5 lights on max in the evening – the Prime Geek and I tend to separate for a few hours each night to pursue our own passions, then get back together to pursue…. Well. Never mind about that. This is a family blog. Nerds Gone Nude would never sell anyway. – and only have them on for maybe 6 hours a day. That means those 5 bulbs should last us around 1,000 days. Roughly 3 years, ish. Rotated through 42 bulbs. So I’m looking at an initial outlay of a minimum of $105.84 plus tax…. It will be several years before I recoup my costs.

Now, I’m willing to bite the bullet and lay the money out for these, because money aside… there is still the little matter of 27,301 pounds of CO2 NOT being released into the atmosphere with these in use. Keeping material we know to be hazardous to the environment is a key point in changing the direction we’re headed… right? Incandescent light bulbs burn so much extra energy, wasted energy that is being turned into wasted heat, they use so much fossil fuels… CFL’s are the only really environmentally safe option. After all… they are perfectly safe for the environment.


Or is there a silver lining to CFL’s that might put a bit of a damper to their advantages.

Let’s figure that out tomorrow.

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