Valentine’s Day Light-Bulb Break-Up: “In the Beginning It Was a Turn On … But Over the Years You Haven’t Changed”

Americans have a strange love affair with the light bulb. While we’re perfectly comfortable setting performance standards for appliances, engines, and building materials, we resort to fear tactics and hollow threats when doing the same for incandescent light bulbs.

Okay, so not all Americans. It’s mostly anti-science politicians who ludicrously see new light bulb efficiency standards as a form of government control — when, in fact, they’re a way to provide consistency for businesses, give consumers more choice, and ultimately strengthen our national relationship with the light bulb.

But pro-pollution advocates fearful of change are now acting like the crazed lovers who can’t let go — turning a once-affectionate relationship into one filled with bitter resentment, desperation, and obsession.

It’s time to break up. The letter below is dedicated to all the incandescent light bulb lovers who are fearful of change. (Click on the image to read the whole text.)

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. You see, I’ve become so accustomed to the shape of you. The way you light up a room — it was so hot! In the beginning it was a turn on. But over the years, you haven’t changed and now you’re only hurting our relationship….  I can’t go on like this … it keeps wasting my energy.”

11 Responses to Valentine’s Day Light-Bulb Break-Up: “In the Beginning It Was a Turn On … But Over the Years You Haven’t Changed”

  1. David B says:

    Here’s hoping all those LED puns will rectify the situation.

    Sorry, I couldn’t… resist…


  2. Mark Shapiro says:

    . . . Rim Shot!

  3. Solar Jim says:

    We are replacing commercial fluorescent tube lights (2 – 8 feet) with LED tube lamps, thereby eliminating ballasts, eliminating mercury, reducing lamp waste (LED’s have long life), reducing maintenance costs and realizing 40-50 ROI displacing utility cost for the customer.

    Halogen track light replacement (MR-16) with LED provides around 100% ROI for stores, as many 50-watt lamps are replaced with 5-watt (7-watt optional).

    Both strategies also save on air conditioning, or refrigeration for food display cases. Almost every type of fixture, inside or outside, can be retrofitted.

    Warranty is three years.

  4. Eric says:

    Solar Jim, your customers must be made of $$! How much do those LED replacements run for 4 or 8′ fluorescent replacement? And how much energy do they consume? It’s been my experience they are prohibitively expensive and use the same amount of energy. The ROI is far too long on those.

    I would also think you’re doing your customers a disservice by using LED MR16 lamps. In our experience, there is no LED that comes anywhere close to a 50 watt halogen. 20 watt maybe, but no way a 50 watt equivalent.

  5. Gord says:

    We are trying an experiment this winter. In two rooms we are using 100W incandescent bulbs. They provide heat and light for both rooms. There has been a noticable difference. Of course during other seasons we use compact fluorescent bulbs … we do not want to deal with the extra heat the old technology produces.

    We see a place for the old fashioned bulbs but only during the heating season when they provide both heat and light. As well, we got a lamp shade that has a wide bottom and a narrower top. It gathers the cold air from the bottom, channels it near the bulb, heats it and blows it out the top. This design seems to be quite efficient at heating air … based upon the velocity of hot air coming out of the top of the shade.

    We don’t see this light bulb conversion as an all or nothing activity. We view these obsolete bulbs as having a place in the energy use mix at latitudes where there is defined heating season.

  6. Chris Winter says:

    ” The way you light up a room — it was so hot!”

    You know, they may have something there. While they can’t compare to a fireplace in which logs cut from old-growth timber crackle comfortingly, it’s true enough that incandescent bulbs lend a certain warmth to a room.

    Nostalgia has its place. Me, I’d love to be able to relax in the light of the vacuum tubes of yore. The ruddy glow from a 5U4… a table radio with the “All-American five”… and, oh, those 813s!


  7. lighthouse says:

    1. Energy savings is not the only reason for choosing a light bulb to use…

    given the superior broad spectrum light quality of incandescents, their many flexible usage advantages,
    and the fact that replacement (halogen etc) incandescents will be phased out too on the EISA 45 lumen per Watt end regulation standard,
    as all covered on onwards.

  8. lighthouse says:

    2. Besides, regarding energy savings:

    Overall US savings from incandescent ban are a fraction of 1% on Energy Dept stats and surveys (as referenced with much more relevant alternatives in generation, grid distribution and alternative consumption savings)
    Again, overall home energy savings are only around 1%.
    Usually ignored are not only the incandescent heat benefit in temperate climates, but also the “power factor” of common CFLs and many domestic LEDs, which means the utility companies use twice the energy to what your home meter says, but which of course you have to pay for eventually.

  9. lighthouse says:

    3. This is therefore a token very “visible” ban,
    for politicians to show they are “doing something” to save the planet,
    while delivering massive profits for lightbulb manufacturers
    (and for utilities in dubious subsidies, to support their expected lower electricity sales).

    CEO Jeffrey Immelt sits and has sat on several of Obama’s advisory boards.
    The lobbying is covered by Leahy and Brandston in a 2011 book “I Light Bulb”
    Manufacturers already achieved a 1000 hr lifespan on bulbs in the Phoebus cartel.
    Now they are achieving a worldwide ban on unprofitable cheap incandescents,
    in favor of expensive unpopular alternatives.
    Think: Why do they welcome a ban on what they are allowed to make and sell? ;-)
    As referenced and documented from onwards.

    An opposition to the bulb ban is always assumed to come from “incalcitrant energy wasting republicans”.
    There are many good ways to save energy and emissions – and Thinkprogress does well to highlight them sometimes.
    It is a pity this is such a partisan issue.

    apart from the overall small savings, light bulbs don’t burn coal or release CO2 gas (power plants might), and targeting light bulbs is not a particularly enlightened policy
    (and if it was, then increased rather than reduced competition among manufacturers, that might include help for new energy saving alternatives to launch to market, or a straight tax on energy demanding products that could finance cheaper energy saving alternatives, would both be better anyway)

    How and why the ban is wrong, a summary:

  10. rjs says:

    i continue to use old the incadenscent bulbs for heat as an alternative to burning more heat oil…

  11. Chris Winter says:

    Regarding the color of CFL bulbs:

    Color. Earlier fluorescent bulbs were criticized for their harsh, unnatural and unflattering light tones. Manufacturers offer better options and greater variety today. In fact, a test performed by Popular Mechanics in 2007 found that the CFL bulbs scored higher for overall quality of light than the incandescent control bulbs.

    Q: I don’t like the color of fluorescent light, are there any spiral compact fluorescents that produce similar light to incandescent light bulbs?
    A: Yes! Spiral CFL light bulbs are now available in a wide range of color temperatures (measured in degrees Kelvin [K]). The color of light a spring lamp produces is determined by the phosphors lining the glass portion of the spiral shape light bulb. The phosphors can be manipulated to mimic virtually any light source. The light produced by spiral compact fluorescents with a color temperature of 2700K-2850K is virtually indistinguishable from the light of incandescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent spirals also come in colors that replicate halogen, traditional fluorescent, and full-spectrum light sources.

    What is the color temperature?
    The color temperature of light is rated in degrees Kelvin (K). For example, a candle is rated at 1500 degrees Kelvin and produces a “warm” light with a red tint. The typical incandescent bulb is 2700 degrees Kelvin and produces a more “yellow” light. At 4000 Kelvin, a “Cool White” Fluorescent light is considered neutral. A “daylight” fluorescent light is rated at 6500 Kelvin and provides cool light with a blue tint.
    Typically, you’ll find the color temperature of the bulb rated on the package in degrees Kelvin or as Cool, Neutral or Warm. To stay close to the light you’re accustomed to from incandescent bulbs, you’ll want to purchase CFL’s in the 2700 Kelvin (or neutral) range. Some people prefer cool bulbs for reading lamps.