That’s a complicated question, because not all incandescent bulb usage is bad. Generally, however, incandescent bulbs are wasteful, and the National Resources Defense Council says the new standards will save the country $12 million every year, dropping costs for an average household 7%.
But there are three other factors to consider for individual homes.
1) What happens to the unwanted heat energy from an incandescent bulb? In some situations that heat is useful, in some cases, that heat is in the way. (It’s useful at night in a Canadian winter, unwanted in a Mexican kitchen at midday.)
2) What alternative bulb is used? A number of the “alternative” bulbs that are more energy efficient are also signficiant (and relatively expensive) health hazards to dispose. If a large portion of those are not disposed of properly, what results, for example is release of mercury into the environment. If a bulb breaks in your house, you end up breathing anything that’s inside. For tungsten bulb, that’s effectively nothing.
3) Light bulbs have a cost, and replacing them has a cost. If there’s an old bulb in the shed that’s only used 2 hours a year, is it economical, is it ecological to buy one to replace it? Probably not. Ecologicaly, a considerable expenditure has already been made, just to get it there! On the other hand, when a lightbulb does blow out, in almost all cases it should be replaced by a green bulb.
For businesses, the break even point is sooner, because businesses change whole rooms of lights all at once — even before they have worn out. This is because the amount they need to pay the “light bulb changers” is so much, they’d lose a lot of money if someone had to drag out a ladder from the back room and climb up to the ceiling, undo the fixture several times a month. Better from a cost point-of-view to change them all at once.
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