The facts are plain. Compact fluorescent light bulbs — or C.F.L.s — use less energy and, over the long haul, save money.
They are so efficient, in fact — and their predecessor, the basic incandescent bulb, is so comparatively inefficient — that Australia passed legislation in 2007 that would effectively phase out incandescent bulbs by next year. TheEuropean Union has followed suit, mandating that incandescents be removed from the marketplace by the end of 2011.
And yet, for all of this, a vast contingent of consumers remains reluctant to embrace the new technology. They cite everything from the unappealing (and unflattering) gray-green glow and slow-to-start nature of some C.F.L.s, to their mercury content and a deeply held conviction that the bulbs, which are considerably more expensive, do not last nearly as long as advertised.
Our readers, responding to a recent post that touched on the national mandates unfolding in Europe, expressed a variety of opinions:
There’s a difference between a low-flow toilet (which, if it performs properly, shouldn’t be an obvious change) and light bulbs that make your entire family look like cadavers.- LF Velez
I’m one of the people who will be stocking up on incandescent bulbs when the time comes. A warm looking home through a bulb is much more cost-efficient than having to keep a fire burning in the gas-fireplace to cast a warm light on the room. And living as if I’m in a hospital or office is simply not an option. — frndhm
My experience with the new bulbs has been dismal. The quality of the light is bad until they warm up. They cost 3 to 5 times as much as an incandescent, and if you have old-fashioned energy-saving habits like turning off the lights when you leave the room, they don’t last any longer than the tungsten bulbs (sometimes less). And they’re more difficult to dispose of properly because of the toxic content. Maybe L.E.D. lights will be better if the price can become reasonable. — Pieter
The amount of whining and the unwillingness to make small sacrifices of aesthetic preference in order to support an effort to save the habitability of our planet is disgusting. No wonder this country is such a mess. — oh brother
In the United States, incandescent bulbs have not been targeted specifically by legislation — though the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires that all bulbs use 30 percent less energy than current incandescent bulbs by 2014. That requirement will likely be met, the Energy Department says, by a combination of C.F.L.s, L.E.D.s and next-generation incandescents.
Of course, that remains to be seen.
In the meantime, consumers in the United States have a choice, and we invite readers to give us their best case as to why they do — or do not — use a particular type of bulb. We’ll publish a collection of responses in a later post.
Meantime, for your convenience, here is the tale of the tape, as provided by the United States Energy Department: