New lighting standards: Five myths and misconceptions

Empire Electric

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Myth #1: The government is banning incandescent lightbulbs and forcing you to buy CFLS.

There is no ban on any technology and incandescent lightbulbs are not going away. Consumers will have a range of better bulb choices in a variety of colors, bulb types, and light levels. The 2012 Energy Independence and Security Act–Compliant incandescent light bulbs look, feel and operate just like regular bulbs; they just do it more efficiently. Some types of bulbs already meet the new standard and some are exempt from the law, including specialty bulbs, globes and 3-way bulbs.

Myth #2: You’ll lose money with the new light bulbs.

Energy efficient bulbs cost less to operate so you will save money on utility bills. Because lighting accounts for approximately 12 percent of the average household’s energy bill, more efficient options will help consumers save money on their utility bills. Energy Star-rated CFLs provide the best value for consumers today, saving more than $40 in electricity costs over the bulb’s lifetime.

Myth #3: The U.S. will lose manufacturing jobs.

Lighting standards are driving innovation in the United States and creating manufacturing jobs when we most need them. Sylvania retooled a Pennsylvania plant to make new, efficient incandescent light bulbs. Companies producing LEDs and components created jobs in California, North Carolina, and Florida. GE closed a plant in Virginia last year, but announced a $60 million expansion of a linear fluorescent lighting factory in Ohio. TCP plans to build a new factory in Ohio to meet the increased demand for CFLs.

Myth #4: Mercury levels will increase with CFLs.

Overall mercury level will decrease. Using more energy with less efficient products means more mercury enters our environment because energy product ion from coal (51 percent) is the main emitter of mercury in the U.S. The more energy you use, the more mercury that enters the environment. Even though CFLs contain small amounts of mercury, you actually prevent more mercury through the energy savings by using CFLs. Even if you don’t consider the mercury benefits from reduced energy use, CFLs represent only a tiny fraction of human-caused mercury emissions — about 0.1 percent. The EPA recommends recycling CFLs. Empire Electric offers recycling buckets at its main office and supplies 13 other local businesses with recycling buckets. For a list of businesses near you, call 565-4444.

Myth #5: The mercury in CFLs is dangerous in your home.

CFLs are safe to use. The EPA estimates that CFLs in the U.S. contain an average of 4 milligrams or less. For perspective, it would take 125 or more CFLs to equal the amount of mercury in a single old-fashioned fever thermometer. No mercury is released when the light bulb is intact or in use. Light bulbs are fragile and can break if dropped. The EPA provides cleanup guidance to ensure minimal human exposure to mercury vapor. Airing out and removing the bulb pieces from the room will quickly dissipate any mercury vapor released.

If you are still concerned, remember there are other lighting options to choose from. CFL clean-up instructions can be found at www.epa.gov/cfl.

Bobbe Jones is the Assistant Member Services Manager with Empire Electric, 801 N. Broadway, Cortez. Empire Electric Association is working with the community to save energy and money.

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