Politicians sometimes campaign by making fun of environmental regulations. Following up on riffs on the same theme, the White House has announced the rollback of a George W. Bush-era regulation, scheduled to take effect next year. It requires the use of energy-efficient light bulbs. Rolling it back is a dim-bulb move.
A trip through any hardware store will verify that the changeover to highly efficient LED bulbs is well underway.
It has taken some time for the public to get used to the quality of the light produced by energy-efficient light bulbs. Early fluorescent bulbs modified for table-lamp use were oddly shaped curls and slow to reach full strength. Early light-emitting-diode bulbs gave off harsh light.
It has taken some time for light-bulb manufacturers to incorporate energy-efficient bulbs into their design, manufacturing, inventory and marketing processes. Energy-efficient lights are now available in a range of light quality, from warm to daylight, and of brightness, from nightlight to reading levels.
It will take a little more time to replace most of the power-guzzling incandescent light bulbs now in use with appropriate energy-efficient fluorescent and LED bulbs. It will take a little more for the long-term savings on power bills to more than make up for the higher cost of the new light bulbs.
The full energy savings potential, however, is significant. Efficient bulb use nationwide could save enough energy to power all the homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Ironically, those who laugh at environmental regulations, think such rules are government overreach and continue to use the incandescent lighting being phased out will end up paying for the privilege. Holding on to energy-inefficient light bulbs will mean higher power bills.
A walk through any home goods or hardware store is proof that light-bulb companies have already adapted to the regulations, and to the public’s growing enthusiasm for saving energy.
New technologies often involve upfront costs, both in money and the pain of changing habits and expectations. When those technologies can help save the planet, turning back the clock takes a pretty dim bulb.