Are you aware that you only have 229 days left to legally buy 100 watt incandescent light bulbs in the US? It’s the result of a law passed by congress to encourage energy efficiency. And by 2014 you won’t be able to buy any incandescent light bulbs 40 watts and above. Once that happens you are really going to have problems. Don’t worry you will have many alternatives.
For instance, you can start hoarding incandescent light bulbs before the law goes into effect. I’m sure retailers will be doing a brisk business in these light bulbs for the next few months. They might even make great Christmas presents or even closing gifts. But how many years’ supply of light bulbs can you buy and store?
I’m also assuming that a thriving black market will develop in incandescent light bulbs. I’m sure that some Al Capone equivalent is already planning his/her empire.
You can also use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They seem to have a pretty good cost/energy savings tradeoff. I just wish they would last 7 years like advertised. I’m getting more like 1 year. The only problem is that they won’t work in light fixtures designed specifically for incandescent light bulbs. And then there is the slight problem with the mercury pollution. It’s only a matter of time before congress bans these too. (BTW, I’ve been on many showings where the sellers have installed terrible fluorescent light bulbs in ceiling fixtures and it makes the rooms look like a morgue. DO NOT DO THIS WHEN SELLING A HOME.)
Of course, the holy grail is the LED light bulb. Two manufacturers are showcasing their prototypes of a 100 watt equinvalent LED light bulb this week. There are only a few problems though:
- They won’t be ready in time to replace the banned 100 watt incandescent light bulbs. It’s not clear how much of a delay there will be.
- They’re going to cost about $50 each. So we will consume $50 in resources every ___ years to save _____ in resources. Yeah, I’d like to see that math.
- People are going to have to change out a bunch of light fixtures. Better consider that as you are shopping for a new home. All that really cool lighting…what will you have to replace it with? And what will be the environmental impact of replacing millions of light fixtures?
Eventually builders and architects will start to come up with some really neat LED based lighting solutions but we’re not there yet.
I understand the intent of this law but what congress apparently doesn’t understand is that the market can allocate resources much more effectively than they can. If it made sense for people to replace incandescent light bulbs with something else they’d be doing it. It’s certainly working with compact fluorescents, though we have to address the whole mercury problem.
Personally, I suspect that congress will eventually realize they need to extend the deadline on this really dumb law. Just wait until they incur the wrath of people who begin to realize the implications of this law. In the meantime, I think I need to create a new category for really dumb laws. There sure seems to be enough of them.