The Lighting Efficiency Coalition wants the U.S. marketplace to transition fully to energy-efficient lighting products by 2016. Leading the charge is Philips Lighting Co., the world's largest manufacturer of light bulbs and lighting products. The coalition claims the market transformation will save consumers and businesses approximately $18 billion annually on electricity bills while saving an amount of lighting energy equivalent to the power generated by 30 nuclear power plants (at 1,000 megawatts) or up to 80 coal-burning power plants (at 500 MW).
In addition, energy-efficient lighting would avoid power plant emissions of more than 158 million tons of carbon dioxide and 5,700 pounds of airborne mercury.
The coalition wants us to replace our inefficient incandescents--the design Edison came up with a century ago--with fluorescent equivalents. You can be sure Philips is accumulating inventories of these one-for-one replacements, which cost more to buy but purportedly cost far less to operate over time.
I've soaked up my share of fluorescent light during a career spent at a desk. Of course, I prefer sunlight to the glaring artificial light we are forced to endure during the workday. Now, if some have their way, we will have to endure the same glare in our homes. Then there's the suspected health hazard--the radio waves that "flicker" from fluorescent bulbs. Add those to the countless other "minuscule" radio waves emanating from our cell phones, wireless notebooks and other wireless paraphernalia.
To be fair, the Lighting Efficiency Coalition is pushing for government and utility incentives that would encourage consumers and businesses to replace their traditional light bulbs in steps, starting with compact fluorescents and eventually moving to light-emitting diodes. I say we wait for LEDs to become practical replacements for incandescent bulbs in the home.
There are many problems to be solved before solid-state sources convincingly emulate the "warm" light of an incandescent and the efficiency of the fluorescent, but we ought to be focusing more effort on using electronics to meet our lighting challenges and less on using mercury and phosphor to make light. Government initiatives should encourage the development of efficient solid-state lighting solutions to narrow the price gap with incandescents.
One way to advance this debate is to weigh in on blogs such as www.ecogeek.org, greentopics.blogspot.com and jacklewis.net/weblog. And don't forget to read our own greensupplyline.com.
Contribute to the discussion. We can all use a little "enlightenment."