Archive for December 2013
My last few Blogs have been based on a headline in the media with homebuilding relevance that I’ve weighed in on. This month’s Blog will use the same strategy. Here’s the headline.
“The Jan. 1 deadline to end production of 60- and 40-watt incandescent light bulbs is fast approaching, but most Americans aren’t even aware that their traditional light sources will soon become a rare commodity, according to one consumer survey.”
It goes on to say that 60% of Americans are aware that incandescent bulbs are going to be phased out but only 40% knew it was happening next week. I don’t know that I’m shocked that so many people are unaware, but I AM shocked that the Government is following through on the mandate. This is government at its best. Setting targets and forcing the free market to adjust to something that is for the public good. The fact that the public is clueless that it’s happening, why it’s happening or when it’s happening should be no surprise. Sometimes big brother is needed for these types of decisions. We don’t need them telling us HOW to do it, or WHAT should be done, just that it needs to happen. The free market is pretty good at figuring it out.
So why are we phasing out incandescent bulbs? By the way the government began phasing out 100- and 75-watt light bulbs in 2012 and 2013 respectively. The elimination of 60- and 40-watt bulbs will have a much greater impact on U.S. consumers because they are the two most popular bulbs on the market. It will still be perfectly legal to buy all four of the bulb wattages but only until current supplies are exhausted. It is no longer legal to import or manufacture any more of them.
Back to the why it’s happening. Like everything associated with the term Green, it’s about energy. Our modern lifestyles require energy. Lots of energy. It powers our homes, our businesses, our transportation and our industrial production. The amount of energy needed, now that globalization of the planet is getting more and more spread around, is truly staggering. The problem is that the production of all this energy for the most part is based on 100 year old technologies that burn natural resources to generate the energy. The burning of these natural resources produces CO2 which ends up getting released into the atmosphere. But it doesn’t leave the atmosphere. It gets trapped. Because it absorbs and emits the infrared radiation from our Sun it adds to the Greenhouse effect. As we continue to grow we need more energy, which means we emit more CO2, which means we continue to heat up the planet, which eventually means a lot of bad news for a lot of different reasons. So we need to stop the unbridled emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. But the changing of technologies on the SUPPLY of energy isn’t going to happen overnight. Hopefully it’ll happen before it’s too late but this Blog is focused on the simple light bulb and what it means to the DEMAND of energy. Any aggressive strategy for solving this CO2 issue has to address both supply and demand. In a perfect world we SUPPLY 100% of our energy needs with non CO2 emitting methods and DEMAND energy in the most efficient methods possible. Because technology evolves, both sides get better over time, but at some point someone needs to start the process. The headline I’m writing is the government forcing the free market to start taking those steps on the DEMAND side.
Roughly 12% of the energy used in homes is for lighting. The goal is to lower that number. If you tell people to buy more energy efficient light bulbs and those bulbs are more expensive people won’t buy them. Some will. But most won’t. They’ll adopt the stance that OTHER people can buy them but them not buying them won’t affect the big picture. However a lot of people taking that stance will affect the big picture. So eliminate the less energy efficient bulbs and people will have no choice. It may cost them a little more but the public good benefits.
I wanted to spend some time talking about the difference between incandescent and the more energy efficient CFL’s and LED bulbs but I already wrote a little too much for one Blog.
Let’s talk about it next time.