Saturday, July 9, 2011

GOP wants Americans to pay more for light

So Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) (of BP apology fame - he apologized to BP after the oil spill) has decided to save us all from the horrors of more efficient light bulbs. Yes folks, the GOP wants to make sure that you can continue to waste money buying light bulbs using technology from the 19th century. (Note to the GOP: We are in the 21st century now).

Some facts: There is no light bulb ban, just an efficiency standard. There are far more choices for light bulbs now than there were in 2007 when the standard was passed and signed by President George W. Bush. Major manufacturers are FOR the standard, so are environmental and consumer groups. It's a win-win-win. Apparently four years after it passed, GOP lawmakers are just realizing that they are against it? Apparently they think it is some kind of 'nanny state' issue where the big bad government is telling us what kind of light bulbs we can buy.

More facts: By reducing power use, efficient bulbs PAY FOR THEMSELVES in a very short time. People will spend less money and waste less power, leaving us all with a few more dollars to spend on something else. Wouldn't that be good for the economy and create jobs? Why is the GOP against job creation?

If you don't like CFLs, buy a 72W halogen bulb to replace your 100W Edison bulb. I have one in a lamp in the living room that has a dimmer control. CFLs are not dimmable (even the ones that are, really aren't). Until the 100W LED equivalent his the market next year, I'll use the halogen. Memo to GOP: The halogen bulb is exactly like the old Edison bulb, it costs more up front, but lasts longer and uses less power. A little algebra proves the lifetime cost is roughly the same (thanks to my very low electric rates), and will only get less as bulb costs go down and electricity prices go up.

Finally, it is worth pointing out the interdependence of our electric use. There is an argument that whatever kind of light bulb one person has doesn't affect anyone else. This is false. Energy efficiency lowers demand for power. This delays or eliminates the need for new power plants. When a utility needs a new power plant, they fund it by asking for a rate increase. In the long term one persons excessive energy use pushes rates up which effects everyone else. So the more efficient we all are, the lower our rates will be.

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