March 28, 2009

saving the planet one bulb at a time - maybe not?

We have these new compact fluorescent bulbs screwed into every spot in our house that we could find an orifice that would take the bulb. Most of this worked fairly well and most of the bulbs are still glowing on command and, our hope is, saving us some money and saving the planet to some small degree. Some errors in judgment were made. There are a variety of these bulbs and some of them give off a strange white light that doesn't seem to have existed in the natural world before the manufacture of the bulb. Some of the bulbs did not last anywhere as long as expected; a few died almost immediately. Now what do you do with a defective or dead bulb? You ruin the whole concept if you throw it away and pollute the hell out of the environment in the bargain (they are evidently packed with mercury).

Turns out that we aren't the only ones fumbling around with these sometimes defective products. There is this from the NYTimes:

Irritation seems to be rising as more consumers try compact fluorescent bulbs, which now occupy 11 percent of the nation’s eligible sockets, with 330 million bulbs sold every year. Consumers are posting vociferous complaints on the Internet after trying the bulbs and finding them lacking.

Bulb makers and promoters say the overall quality of today’s compact fluorescents is high. But they also concede that it is difficult to prevent some problem bulbs from slipping through.

Experts say the quality problems are compounded by poor package instructions. Using the bulbs incorrectly, like screwing low-end bulbs into fixtures where heat is prone to build up, can greatly shorten their lives.

Some experts who study the issue blame the government for the quality problems, saying an intensive federal push to lower the price essentially backfired by encouraging manufacturers to use cheap components.

“In the pursuit of the holy grail, we stepped on the consumer,” said Michael Siminovitch, director of a lighting center at the University of California, Davis.

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