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Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs - Don’t break one
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, May 09, 2007

As our robot friend would say, "Danger, Will Robinson:"
How much money does it take to screw in a compact fluorescent lightbulb? About $4.28 for the bulb and labor — unless you break the bulb. Then you — like Brandy Bridges of Ellsworth, Maine — could be looking at a cost of about $2,004.28, which doesn't include the costs of frayed nerves and risks to health.

Sound crazy? Perhaps no more than the stampede to ban the incandescent light bulb in favor of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) — a move already either adopted or being considered in California, Canada, European Union and Australia.

According to an April 12 article in the Ellsworth American, Mrs. Bridges had the misfortune of breaking a CFL during installation in her daughter's bedroom — it dropped and shattered on the carpeted floor.

Aware that CFLs contain potentially hazardous substances, Mrs. Bridges called her local Home Depot for advice. The store told her the CFL contained mercury and she should call the Poison Control hotline, which in turn, directed her to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The DEP sent a specialist to Mrs. Bridges' house to test for mercury contamination. The specialist found mercury levels in the bedroom in excess of 6 times the state's "safe" level for mercury contamination of 300 billionths of a gram per cubic meter.

The DEP specialist recommended Mrs. Bridges call an environmental clean-up firm which, reportedly, gave her a "low-ball" estimate of $2,000 to clean up the room. The room was then sealed-off with plastic and Mrs. Bridges began "gathering finances" to pay for the $2,000 cleaning. Reportedly, her insurance company wouldn't cover the clean-up costs because mercury is a pollutant.
And, of course, there's the inconvenience to the daughter who now is without a bedroom. Oh, and one more tip - if you break one don't sweep it up with the vacuum cleaner. It spreads mercury dust around the house and contaminates the vacuum.

Gawd ... I remember playing with mercury when I was a kid and a thermometer broke. Heck my mom gave it to me.

I know ... child abuse.

As for Ms. Bridges ... once she pays for the clean up in the daughter's room, given the yearly savings from switching to CFLs, she'll easily recoup the cost of the clean up in ... 11 years?

Yikes. Let's hope they're not a butter-fingered bunch.

For the entrepreneurs, however, CFLs could end up being a windfall ... call and get your franchise info now.
 
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Link [instapundit]

From the link above -
The very small amount of mercury in a CFL — about 5 milligrams, compared to an old-fashioned home thermometer, which had about 500 milligrams — is safe while the bulb is in operation and poses little risk even if it breaks, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The government’s Energy Star program says the amount of mercury in a compact fluorescent bulb is so small that there’s no immediate health risk if it’s cleaned up properly.

The program’s advice is to sweep up the pieces – don’t vacuum them – and put them into a sealed plastic bag. Wipe the area with a damp paper towel to pick up the fine shards and particles, and put the towel into the plastic bag as well. If weather permits, open the windows to ventilate the room. Treat the bag and its contents as hazardous waste, and recycle appropriately.
So basically there is a $2000 tax on stupid people that use CF bulbs.

 
Written By: Firedrake
URL: http://
What are you trying to do, cut down on my franchising opportunities? ;)
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I noticed Phillips was a big supporter of the bill to replace all the bulbs with CFL’s. Can’t find the link at the moment, so treat that as rumor only. But think about it, those companies will make gazillions off the forced switch.

Why build a product people want when you can use the Government to force it down their throats?

So far, there’s 1 of those things in my house and if it ever breaks, at this point, I won’t be replacing it. It’s the ’expensive’ kind and takes a full minute to warm up, then everything looks like crap even though it’s a ’warm’ colored one. I can see the flickering and it puts out barely enough light to matter.

I’m all about energy efficiency when it makes sense, but these things have a ways to go.
 
Written By: Robb Allen
URL: http://blog.robballen.com
Now you’ve done it, McQ. Instapundit is going to come after you with a vengeance!
 
Written By: Joe Tobacco
URL: http://www.cadillactight.com
Mommies everywhere are unscrewing CFL’s and throwing them away as we speak.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
I’m a mommy, and I think Ms. Bridges’ main problem was not the fluorescent bulb, it was relying on the government to tell her what to do. Of which, as always, it does a very crappy job. If I broke a CFL bulb, my first thought sure wouldn’t be "Let’s make a chain of phone calls and see how many government agencies we can involve in the cleanup!" Even if I did, though, once I got the $2000 estimate, I’d have told the firm I wanted to price around, shooed them out the door, and got out my handy-dandy internet to find out how to do it myself.

As a mommy, I still don’t like any move to require people to use CFL, especially in businesses. Won’t anyone think of the poor autistic children who are driven to distraction by the flickering of fluorescent lighting? My two on the autism spectrum have very mild cases, but one of them is only manageable for about 40 minutes before we have to leave any fluorescently lit store.
 
Written By: Wacky Hermit
URL: http://organicbabyfarm.blogspot.com
I’m a mommy, and I think Ms. Bridges’ main problem was not the fluorescent bulb, it was relying on the government to tell her what to do.
Exactly. Regulations and restrictions have become laughable in their efforts to eliminate risk. Yet this has become part of our culture.

As for the light bulbs, the most rational thing for me would be to use compact flourescents in summer, and incandessents in winter. In summer the upstairs gets hot sometimes (no AC — usually not needed in Maine) and compact flourescents don’t add heat. However, the reason that compact flourescents are so energy efficient is they don’t give off heat — so in winter that heat is not wasted energy, but actually will help (and I’ll burn less fuel oil).

I think the government should give information and help consumers make better choices, but mandates are absurd. Of course, I just talked to a friend who has dual American-British citizenship, and she’s talking about how the Brits are planning to put a huge tax on air travel if you take more than one flight a year. Yikes!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
In Taiwan we’re all using fluorescents mainly because as Erb says, incandescents are too hot. Do the CFLs have the ballasts that also need replacing? Seems like fluorescents need to be replaced more than advertised as well.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Exactly. Regulations and restrictions have become laughable in their efforts to eliminate risk. Yet this has become part of our culture.
And there’s no bigger constituency for that than your sort, Erb.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Exactly. Regulations and restrictions have become laughable in their efforts to eliminate risk. Yet this has become part of our culture.

And there’s no bigger constituency for that than your sort, Erb.
You are proving a theory I have. People who disagree on these kinds of discussions develop imagination-driven images of the people with whom they disagree, and assume them to have particular perspectives and ideas. This image is based less on what is posted, and more on the imagination someone has about their opponents. Because clearly, if you make that kind of statement, you don’t know my perspective at all.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
he’s got ya there tom.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
People who disagree on these kinds of discussions develop imagination-driven images of the people with whom they disagree, and assume them to have particular perspectives and ideas.
he’s got ya there tom.
The h3ll he has. I didn’t say he shared their views in those particulars, did I?

People to the left of center favor regulatory big government, the mommy state.

It’s been true since the Progressives and The Jungle, it’s true today.

Thank you for playing.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Professor Erb,

While incandescent bulbs create much more heat than CFLs, they do that inefficiently too. I’d suggest keeping CFLs in year-round and adding heat with something designed to actually heat. We’re talking about small amounts of energy/money here but I don’t want to leave the suggestion that incandescent bulbs should be used for heating unanswered (at least heating on the scale of a house or even room).

http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/lighting.html

Jimmy
 
Written By: Jimmy
URL: http://
While incandescent bulbs create much more heat than CFLs, they do that inefficiently too. I’d suggest keeping CFLs in year-round and adding heat with something designed to actually heat. We’re talking about small amounts of energy/money here but I don’t want to leave the suggestion that incandescent bulbs should be used for heating unanswered (at least heating on the scale of a house or even room).
OK, where does the rest of the energy go? I was talking to a geologist who claimed that the excess energy came almost primarily from heat and that if you do the calculation of how much you save in using CFLs it comes out as not too much. I’m not saying you’re wrong — the website you cite clearly says they make heat inefficiently — only that I received contradictory information from someone else. I guess I need to do some investigation (not that this will change my practices, but now I’m curious...)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
While incandescent bulbs create much more heat than CFLs, they do that inefficiently too.
About 10% of the power dissipated in an incandescent becomes photons of too high a frequency to be used as heat directly.

A resistance heating element produces 100% of its power dissipation as heat.

If you want heat, use a heater, if you want light use something that mostly makes light (compared to heat).

For the dual purpose of heating and lighting a potato bin in an outbuilding, incandescents work great.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
About 10% of the power dissipated in an incandescent becomes photons of too high a frequency to be used as heat directly.

Yep. That 10% is called "light".
 
Written By: George
URL: http://
Heat from incandescents...

Kids, kids, kids. Let’s all put some cake batter in our Kenner Easy Bake ovens, powered by the 100 watt light bulb and see what happens, shall we?

http://www.timewarptoys.com/easy1.jpg
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Professor Erb,

I don’t know where the energy goes if not to heat or light, I’m relying on those who know more than I do in that arena (as Mr. Electricity seems to). I’m sure someone can do the heating calculations of incandescent bulb vs. heater and come up with some explanation.

For those who are interested in this sort of thing, I’ve had CFLs in my exterior carriage lights for close to five years now. Of the four exterior lights, three have burned out (or whatever you call a CFL that doesn’t work anymore). The one survivor has been burning for 10 hours a day for around 1,700 days giving it a life of 17,000 hours. That’s almost double it’s claimed life of 8,000. The other three only gave out in the last eighteen months meaning they all outlived their designed lifespan.

I’ve been gradually replacing my interior lights with CFLs over the past six months. They save me money and I can’t tell a lick of difference between an incandescent and CFL.

So I’m sold on CFLs, have been for a while now. That doesn’t mean I want the government to outlaw incandescents.

Jimmy
 
Written By: Jimmy
URL: http://
Professor Erb
Why so formal? I grew up in South Dakota where you’re on a first name basis with just about everyone from the start!

Anyway, like you, I was relying on what I heard from two scientists, most recently a fossil fuel geologist, who said that the savings in using CFLs is largely offset by the increased cost in heating. Obviously that’s only in winter, in summer it’ll add to air conditioning costs if you have AC (I fear even here in the north lands warmer temps will force us to start running air conditioners. I’ll hold off as long as I can!) But I seriously won’t make that an issue. My basement is all flourescent except for one small lamp, and we’re planning on changing the upstairs lights to CFLs when they burn out. But I’m certainly not going to call a government agency if one happens to fall and break! :-)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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