Brainless Bulb Ban

There’s a widely believed misunderstanding about the incandescent light bulb. It’s true they’re very inefficient at producing light, and perhaps only 2% of the electricity consumed actually turns into light. However the unused 98% is not “wasted” but turns into heat. During the 8-9 months/year we heat our homes that 98% is not wasted, and in fact helps reduce the cost of whatever other heating system we use. When we add to those 8-9 months, the chilly evenings (when we need light) of early & late summer, we’re probably using the warmth from light a full 10 months/year.

An incandescent bulb is basically a tiny space heater with an “on” light that we find pleasant and useful.

Absolutely everyone who uses statistics to show the waste of incandescent light bulbs ignores the benefits of the heat that is harvested in buildings that require heating. In fact, 100% of the electricity used in a house (except for that which escapes to the outside) becomes heat. The First Law of Thermodynamics is the principle of the conservation of energy, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

During heating season, every single appliance in a house, even a refrigerator, is essentially running free of charge, since all the electricity consumed eventually turns into heat. The Wentworth Gazette hereby offers a reward of $100 to anyone who proves this wrong.

In fact, here’s another $100 if you can prove there’s any such thing as a “more efficient” electric heater. If an electric heater is, for instance, 80% efficient, that means the remaining 20% gets wasted. And how does waste happen – as heat! (80% reaped + 20% wasted = 100% efficient) In order to get the full benefit of the “waste” heat, a fan can be used to push air around so the temperature gets evened out. Of course the fan itself will be operating free of charge, and contributing its own little bit of heat.

Also, the times when we’re “wasting” electricity are exactly when we have electricity to waste. In summer the reservoirs up north are overflowing with melted snow and ice and there’s an overcapacity we have no way to use. This can be clearly seen in Hydro Quebec rates, where industry is enticed with summertime rates of $2.52 compared to $6.21 the rest of the year. If at some point in the future people get the same cheap electricity as companies, our July-August prices could also drop by 60%, thereby nullifying whatever advantage CFL and LED lighting have during the 2 short months when our nights are warm.

Finally, those pushing for compact fluorescent bulbs are also ignoring the environmental damage and human cost in China where the mercury is mined and processed. The CFL is another form of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). If we don’t see the human costs of mining, processing, and manufacturing these bulbs, then we feel free to ignore it. The undervalued yuan is a mechanism for damaging the health of impoverished Chinese miners and factory workers, while we field-strip mercury into Canadian garbage dumps where it will remain toxic for centuries. The real costs of this technology are being buried under the carpet because uninformed people find it easier to “do something good for the environment” by spending money to buy something new, rather than getting informed and doing a bit of work themselves. It would be far more helpful for everyone to simply put better weatherstripping on doors and widows.

The brainless bulb ban is another flagrant example of regulation by bureaucrats who don’t know science. Just because a certain piece of policy makes sense in California doesn’t make it right for us here. Please forward this link to anyone you think might be interested.