Thursday, February 7, 2008

3-2-1 Compact

I never fucked around with Compact Fluorescent light "bulbs" before. My thinking was that as a single non-homeowner, my lifestyle doesn't really justify buying anything that's going to last five years. But I have cats, so I guess that reasoning doesn't really hold up. And then a couple recent events caused me to take the plunge and pick up a couple.

First, Rob Cockerham posted quantifying the efficiency gains of CF over incandescent, which I found pretty persuasive. A couple days later he posted again with some negative feedback he'd received in response to his CFL essay. These responses set off my right-wing bullshit detector (my detector of right-wing bullshit, that is) right away. They all consisted of lists of the same "gotcha" objections (e.g., you can't use a CFL in your oven) without ever challenging the central assertion (that CFLs are far, far more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs).

It's exactly the style of argument used to dispute the veracity of global climate change, evolution, or the Holocaust: the point isn't to actually win the debate, but rather to make it appear to the casual observer that, first, there is a debate to be had; and second, since it seems to involve all these highly technical points regarding flagella or mercury disposal or whatnot, the layman had best just leave the whole thing alone and not pass judgment one way or the other. "Opinions Differ on Shape of Earth," as the joke goes.

Anyway, down towards the end of the response page someone gives the game away by linking to a WorldNetDaily article (duly sadlynotified later that day). So while I haven't talked to anyone who can figure out what's motivating right-wingers to go after CFLs aside from sheer misanthropic orneriness, it seems pretty clear that I'm now obligated to use CF on principle.

Oh and then when I was helping Andrew move he revealed that he had a couple in his apartment. I had been worried about the light quality of CFLs, but as an artist in the medium of light, his endorsement carries a lot of weight. So I picked up a couple and put them in both my bathrooms.

I'm pretty happy with them so far. They seemed dimmer than the 75W bulbs they replaced at first, but then when I gave them time to warm up they looked okay. Here's my downstairs bathroom, pictures taken just after flipping the lightswitch, and then every 10 seconds after:

So it's really yellow at first but pretty white by the time you're done brushing your teeth or peeing, and you can put on your makeup or artificial tan without concern.

Also the incandescents I had been using were those full spectrum or "daylight" ones, so that's part of the difference. They also have CFLs like that, but they were like twice as expensive, so I went with the regular ones.

Next up will be my bedroom, where I have three incandescents (plus two track lights that I think are halogens) right now. I have one 3-way lamp and one with a dimmer, but they have fancy CFLs on the market for both of those situations. And then my other floor lamp's socket is recessed so far that I couldn't get the ones I got to screw in, so I'll have to see if I can find one that's shaped differently.

The future is now, in any case.

1 comment:

DU said...


I agree about the warm up time and color. I have a whole boxful of free/cheap CFLs we got on various deals and sales, but I'll probably switch to daylight ones when I run out. Which will be never, since I've never had one of these ever burn out.

Also, your title is noted with astonishment.