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Power Hardware

GE Closes Last US Light Bulb Factory 797

Posted by samzenpus
from the bright-idea dept.
pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that last major GE factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the US is closing this month, marking a small, sad exit for a product and company that can trace their roots to Thomas Alva Edison's innovations in the 1870s. What made the plant vulnerable is, in part, a 2007 energy conservation measure passed by Congress that set standards essentially banning ordinary incandescents by 2014 but rather than setting off a boom in the US manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas. GE developed a plan to see what it would take to retrofit a plant that makes traditional incandescents into one that makes CFLs but even with a $40 million investment the new plant's CFLs would have cost about 50 percent more than those from China. 'Everybody's jumping on the green bandwagon,' says Pat Doyle, 54, who has worked at the plant for 26 years. But 'we've been sold out. First sold out by the government. Then sold out by GE.'"
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GE Closes Last US Light Bulb Factory

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  • Yes, it sucks that the market for candles disappeared but you have to adapt and compete. If you can't make CFLs competitively, then you lose your job. It's that simple.

  • Good old statism (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:07PM (#33546468)
    Ah, the good old US government, not only reducing US jobs but also reducing consumer choice in something as simple as choosing what type of light bulb you want.
  • Sold out by GE? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Desert Raven (52125) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:08PM (#33546474)

    OK, how exactly were they "sold out by GE"?

    The plant wasn't profitable currently, was going to be made obsolete by law in a couple of years, and was not even remotely profitable to refit to producing the CFLs.

    So they should just pay people to work for the heck of it?

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:08PM (#33546478)

    It's easy for stuff to be 50% less in a factory town where works are just meat and they work super overtime with no overtime pay. Also over seas it costs less to pay off / bribe gov into looking the other way over them breaking over time and worker rights laws.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:08PM (#33546482)

    GE is looking out for themselves. Making light bulbs overseas is cheaper, so they do it without one bit of shame. Which is fine, they're a corporation, their duty is to their shareholders. If their shareholders want profits, they have to do it cheaper.

    The US government has duties to the citizens. Unfortunately this can put some citizens out of sorts, because the needs of the whole may be different. Sorry, but it happened with the buggy whip makers, it'll happen with the light bulb ones.

    Hopefully these employees are getting retraining, education, and whatever other resources they need to find jobs. You can certainly differ over whether or not the restrictions of light bulbs are appropriate, but we can't just throw our hands up and do nothing. If you have better ideas, please give them instead of just offering criticism.

    I would rather hear dumb ideas than just hearing that you think all ideas are dumb.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:09PM (#33546488)
    This isn't that the market for candles disappeared but rather the government banned candles. This is not the free market at work but rather the government screwing us (again)
  • by zerofoo (262795) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:12PM (#33546516)

    In the manufacture of physical things it's very hard to compete with companies operating in other countries that have less worker protections, less environmental protections, and non-existent employee benefits.

    Either we stop buying from manufacturers located in these countries or we push our legislators to prohibit the import of items manufactured under these conditions.

    OR

    We lower our standard of living to a 3rd world standard to "compete". Is throwing away your standard of living worth cheap light bulbs?

    -ted

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:14PM (#33546526)

    Agreed! It's only a matter of time before they phase out CFL bulbs because of their mercury content. That leaves LEDs as the next big thing.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:18PM (#33546552)

    "It's easy for stuff to be 50% less in a factory town where works are just meat and they work super overtime with no overtime pay. "

    The reality of competing with cheap workers will require a reset so our workers become cheap. Productivity is high with few workers, but if more workers are to have jobs, they will have to work for less, live less well, and be like the rest of the world.

    The main reason the US did so well for so long was it was the "last country standing" after WWII, which was the best thing ever to happen to the US economy.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:19PM (#33546560)

    marking a small, sad exit for a product and company that can trace their roots to Thomas Alva Edison's innovations in the 1870s.

    In other news GE has sold their buggy whip division...

    This is not sad news except maybe for the employees who work there. Incandescent bulbs are a technology which has seen its day but it's day is pretty much at an end. They'll continue to be manufactured for some time but not by GE. Anyone who would expect GE to continue to manufacture an obsolete product with rapidly dwindling market share is a moron. The growth opportunities in lighting are with newer technology such as CFL and LED lighting. This is not something to shed a single tear over. Sentimentality in a situation like this is just bizarre.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:20PM (#33546568)

    I find that CFLs last exactly as long as they state on the package which is pretty damn good. I am surprised by how much I like them and how much cooler they run.

    The biggest downside is I just throw the burnt out ones in the trash (with batteries) like many others do. So I do wonder if all that mercury will actually make the "green" aspect just another bunch of bullshit.

    I suspect for this reason alone, the future will not be in CFLs.

  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:21PM (#33546582)

    Just efficiency levels. You can choose any technology that meets that efficiency standard.

    When energy costs and availability affect our way of life and security so much, using a statism to attack a move as logical as this just doesn't make sense.

  • by larry bagina (561269) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:24PM (#33546606) Journal
    Yep, good old government, breaking windows to stimulate jobs for window replacers. Oops. I'm sure it'll work out better next time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:25PM (#33546618)

    Anonymous Public is looking out ofr themselves.....

    And I am sure you'd go out of your way to pay twice as much for the CFLs that would have been manufactured in the US.

  • by Koby77 (992785) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:25PM (#33546622)
    As mentioned in the article it costs 50% more to make them locally. Personally I don't think that 1st world economies should have to compete against 3rd world labor laws, non existent environmental standards, and be forced to collude with the government to get subsidies and manipulate the currency exchange just to be competitive. So until things change for the better, no we shouldn't encourage more jobs to go overseas by legislating light bulb usage.
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:26PM (#33546632)

    Considering how miniscule a percentage of total energy usage residential light bulbs account for, it doesn't seem like a very sensible thing to regulate. (Commercial lighting is a bigger deal, and already separately regulated.) It's also using electricity, the least problematic of the energy sources from a security point of view, because it's mainly generated using U.S. sources (there's even currently a natural-gas glut).

    If they really cared about energy security, they'd be going after oil usage, e.g. by raising the gas tax or mandating better fuel standards. Replacing every incandescent bulb in the U.S. won't have an effect even close to what a 5mpg increase in average fuel efficiency would have.

  • by epiphani (254981) <epiphani@ d a l . net> on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:27PM (#33546636)

    Please explain how the government mandating energy efficiency is equivalent to the government screwing us.

    The government keeps your energy prices artificially low. I think that gives them the right to make sure you're not pissing away energy. Or would you rather electricity was five times the current price?

    I actually might prefer that. But I also make significantly more than the average person.

  • by formfeed (703859) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:27PM (#33546644)

    In the manufacture of physical things it's very hard to compete with companies operating in other countries that have less worker protections, less environmental protections, and non-existent employee benefits.

    Either we stop buying from manufacturers located in these countries or we push our legislators to prohibit the import of items manufactured under these conditions.

    That would be great, and one probably could do that through import taxes. Free trade allows for Co2 trading, why not humanitarian production taxes? As long as the generated taxes match the humanitarian help that goes back into the exporting countries, it would not be a blocking import tax.

    This would get rid of sleeze-balls constantly relocating to the worst countries and help businesses (and countries) that want to act responsibly. But as long as WTF agreements are done in a completely non-democratic way, it's not gonna happen.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:28PM (#33546650)

    Ah, the good old US government, not only reducing US jobs but also reducing consumer choice in something as simple as choosing what type of light bulb you want.

    Because god damn it I should have a RIGHT to burn as much energy unnecessarily as I want. I have a RIGHT to be an irresponsible, planet destroying, jackass who clings to obsolete and inefficient technologies. How DARE the government force me to utilize a less polluting, longer lasting technology. [/sarcasm]

    Choice has costs that go much beyond your consumption preferences. I like old cars but there are reasons modern cars have modern pollution controls. If you can't behave responsibly, eventually others are going to get annoyed at your selfish behavior and you might not like their solution. Incandescent bulbs consume more power than available substitutes and that has national energy policy implications that are much more serious than your annoyance that you have to use a different type of light bulb.

  • Re:Sold out by GE? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:31PM (#33546686)

    The plant wasn't profitable currently, was going to be made obsolete by law in a couple of years, and was not even remotely profitable to refit to producing the CFLs.

    Calculated by whom?

    I find it interesting that according to GE accounting, it's cheaper to to just move everything overseas than to retrofit. It amazes me that someone just has to say that their numbers show whatever it is and people think it's an indisputable fact based on physical laws. And of course, most people hear "numbers" and think some scientific analysis was done and there's "proof" that it's the case. Accounting is NOT a science. Accounting is not based on physical laws. Even if you follow GAAP and FASB rules, there are still quite a few different ways of calculating things - AND those rules are just for reporting only. Management can calculate things ANY WAY THEY WANT TO.

    Maybe it is cheaper to go overseas and honestly in this economic climate, it probably is. After all, GE isn't going to throw money away. BUT my point is, just because it doesn't make sense for GE with all their corporate overhead, doesn't mean it wouldn't be unprofitable for another company - the Japanese have proven that they can make things here in the US and still make a very nice return - even with US lazy expensive Americans.

    Also, just because it may be cheaper now, doesn't mean it will be in the future because: the Yaun wiil increase in value, transportation costs will increase as fuel prices go up and the surplus of shipping declines.

    In a nutshell, GE is being very shortsighted.

  • by westlake (615356) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:33PM (#33546704)

    And LEDs don't require you to use a hazmat suit to pick up pieces if you break one (since they contain Mercury).

    Urban legend. Light fingered [snopes.com]

  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:34PM (#33546706)

    So that's 1/5th of all the energy used in residences.

    That's not minuscule.

    Your last argument is ridiculous. Every bit counts, just because one thing isn't done doesn't mean another thing done isn't useful.

    And by they way they ARE mandating better fuel standards. The CAFE (required fuel economy average of cars sold) goes up 2.5mpg next year (first raise in a decade) and will go up another 4.8mpg over the next 8 years.

  • Why a ban? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JMZero (449047) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:35PM (#33546720) Homepage

    I think a ban is a horrible choice. Why not just add a tax on them?

    That way, anyone who had some reason for wanting one could still get one - and who knows why you might want one (art/aesthetics? heat (especially in odd/cold installation environments)? plain old preference (I mean, it's not like there isn't much worse environmental choices that aren't banned)?).

    Use the tax on some environmental endeavor, and set it high enough that the net outcome is environmentally positive.

    There wouldn't need to be as many produced, but production could slow over time rather than stopping immediately.

    Everybody wins.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:36PM (#33546734)

    I already do have the right to burn as much energy unnecessarily as I want, though. The government didn't even ban most of the bigger ones; they banned a really tiny one that seems to be mostly out of image and spite.

    To use your example, driving old cars is not banned, and they're even grandfathered in from just about all newer regulations. Running an unnecessarily ridiculous 500 Watt home computer is not banned. Keeping your home air-conditioned to 72 degrees (which many peopl actually do) is not banned either. Buying a Hummer 2 to go grocery shopping isn't banned. Installing single-paned windows isn't banned. Etc., etc.

    Plus in my particular case, incandescent bulbs are around 100% efficient. I live in an area with a climate that's around 50-60 most of the year, which is cool enough to need some heating, but not cold enough to be worth the expense of getting a gas furnace installed. So I use a moderate amount of electrical heating to keep it up around the mid-60s (I don't really mind it being somewhat cool). Any "waste heat" from bulbs, the stove, or the computer substitutes 1-for-1 for the electrical heater.

    Of course, you could ban electrical heaters, too. ;-)

  • Re:Tesla was here (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:38PM (#33546744)
    George Westinghouse was the one that really fucked Tesla over. It didn't help that Tesla was pretty naive in business.

    I wish some Westinghouse award winner would say "In the name of Nicolai Tesla, I say shove it up your ass! I don't accept awards from a company started by a thief."

  • by OnePumpChump (1560417) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:43PM (#33546784)
    They get broken about 10% of the time when a bulb is being changed

    Do you have Parkinson's disease or something?
  • by Peach Rings (1782482) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:43PM (#33546788) Homepage

    Yeah! And if the EPA hadn't screwed us in 1970, the free market would still be happily pumping out cars that are a thousand dollars cheaper and run on wonderful TEL-enhanced gasoline because there are government-mandated catalytic converters to ruin.

    Oh, and New York would still be in a choking black cloud of poisonous smog. But who cares about that.

  • by guabah (968691) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:48PM (#33546826)

    Except that old cars will keep lowering in numbers just by the fact that parts become more scarce as well as rust eating away the car, so unless you are very dedicated to keep your old car running you'll eventually want to have a newer car and save the hassle.

  • Re:CFLs won't last (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seeker_1us (1203072) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:51PM (#33546848)
    You are not supposed to be throwing them into landfills. The labels on the back of the packaging say that. Its easy to recycle them. When I buy new CFLs from Lowes, I bring the old ones in and drop them off at the front desk. End of story.

    In 3 to 5 years when all the CFLs start dying, there will be a huge furor over the mercury they contain leeching into landfills.

  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @02:57PM (#33546900)

    So this can cut energy usage in the US by about 1.75%.

    And you say it doesn't count? That's a lot of energy.

    Passenger cars use about 14% of the energy in the US. You would like to increase fuel economy average in cars 5mpg. This would reduce that energy use about 15% (5mpg out of 32mpg). That's an energy reduction of 2.2%.

    So you ridicule one mandate as trivially small and suggest one that is only 25% larger as the real answer? Especially when the lighting one can be much more easily implemented as it is much easier and cheaper to replace light bulbs than to replace your car.

  • by sjames (1099) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:05PM (#33546986) Homepage

    Not to mention producers will have to lower prices to reduce the cost of living for those workers. That will inevitably happen anyway as the corporations economically devastate their own market for the sake of short term returns. Unemployed people don't buy much.

  • by HBI (604924) <kparadine AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:07PM (#33547004) Homepage Journal

    You, sir, are an opponent of human liberty. You can try to twist your meaning however you like, but you're an advocate of a totalitarian state, controlling every aspect of your life. Your reasons for feeling that way are irrelevant. Hypothetically "destroying the planet" isn't a good enough reason, since there isn't a good enough reason. For feeling that way, you are going to be partially responsible for the deaths of many people and the misery they live under before the evil you advocate is redressed.

  • by MrNaz (730548) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:08PM (#33547022) Homepage

    The Cree MCE can push 1000 lumens with about 10W of power. There are other LEDs as well (SSC P7, SST-90) that can output this sort of lumen count. However there are no standard type bulbs that feature it, as the problem with LEDs is that they dissipate the heat into the fixture rather than radiate it forward. This means that the fire hazard is an issue, unless your roof is made of fireproof material. Radiating heat into the room is a non issue, as rooms are usually large enough that this is not an issue. A small area just behind the light getting very very hot, however, is an issue.

    For this reason I think that the LED problem is simply one of designing fixtures where the heat sink is designed such that the surface that the LED is mounted on has significant surface area facing the same direction as the LED. This may mean complex designs, but light fittings are already complex because interior designers are a bunch of loonies. Now they'll actually have a reason to make that room lamp look like a gigantic vagina.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:14PM (#33547092)

    Anything subsidized by the "government" is subsidized by YOU. The government, contrary to naive teenager thinking, doesn't create money and funding from thin air or money-trees. So if electricity/energy is being subsidized by the government to artificially keep consumer costs low, it's the Tax Payer subsidizing. Get a grip. A simple case of robbing peter to subsidize...peter.

  • by nickmalthus (972450) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:14PM (#33547098)
    Actually what needs to happen for America to stay competitive with China is for an oppressive fascist authoritarian government to seize power and subsequently squelch all dissent as party loyalist pillage the country. Then we would be apples to apples the same as China and that future doesn't seem to be too far off.
  • Re:CFL "Green?" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:14PM (#33547100)

    These bulbs are far from environmentally friendly or “so called green” and is another example of how foolish laws attempting to “manage” people’s behavior create more long term problems. Each bulb contains about 5 milligrams (mg) of mercury, a toxic heavy metal that can interfere with the development of children and unborn fetuses and may cause a wide range of health issues in adults, including brain, kidney and liver damage.

    The mercury released from a CFLs deposited in a landfill if they aren't recycled is, with the current electricity generating mix in the US, less than the average quantity of mercury released into the environment from electricity generation (burning coal) to supply the additional energy consumed to power incandescent bulbs over CFLs. (Source [energystar.gov])

    I personally would rather live with the consequences of the incandescent lamp for a while longer.

    Why? Because you want more mercury released into the environment?

  • Re:Sold out by GE? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:15PM (#33547104)

    OK, how exactly were they "sold out by GE"?

    Because GE was one of the big lobbyists for the bill which outlawed the bulbs made at this plant. Now whether the law was a good one or not is another question, but GE wanted this law. GE will make more profits on the light bulbs they will sell under this law than they could have under any circumstances on regular incandescent bulbs (especially when you can't buy regular incandescent anymore and they can raise their prices).

  • by sjames (1099) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:15PM (#33547106) Homepage

    This is not a buggy whip situation. This isn't GE stubbornly continuing to make a product with diminishing demand. This is the inability to compete on price alone against cheap sweatshop labor. This is the Federal government failing utterly to do it's job to the detriment of all but the richest segment of the population.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:16PM (#33547112)

    FWIW, I think thermostat threshholds aren't actually entirely ridiculous. For residential usage I imagine there'd be a backlash, but there's no reason so many square feet of office space have to be a/c'd to 72 or even 70 constantly.

    For home energy usage, though, why micromanage what I do within my energy budget, so long as my total energy usage is quite low? I personally hate CFLs for reading, and I don't think my three total incandescent bulbs (225W total when all on) are really killing the environment. That's why I think just going by total usage is more fair. If my neighbor wants to run a ridiculous thermostat and television, and I don't, why can't I use my energy savings on something I prefer? My whole apartment probably uses less than 50% of the average energy around here, so I'd pass any actually objective threshholds anyone chose to impose.

    But with this per-item efficiency thing, I can't run 225W of incandescent bulbs, but my neighbor can run 2000W of home-theater equipment? How is that fair or pro-environment?

  • by DeadboltX (751907) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:17PM (#33547114)
    It is also all in the name of "being green", but how much more polluting are the overseas factories, and the cargo transports to get all those bulbs back over to the U.S.?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:17PM (#33547116)

    it will be won without a single shot as the usa wont be making anything .....

  • Re:CFLs won't last (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:20PM (#33547152)
    You call storing them until you go to buy more and then having to remember to take them with you easy. It may not be hard, bit it is a hassle. Most people will just throw them in the trash.
  • Re:huh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pentium100 (1240090) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:20PM (#33547156)

    Incandescent lights are probably more expensive to ship. They take up as much space as CFLs but are much cheaper, so the shipping cost makes up for a larger part in total cost.

  • Well, then, it's like lead manufacturers getting really pissed when the government ruins their business by banning leaded gasolines. Governments regulate shit all the time. It's part of the business environment. If you can't adapt, you deserve to get wiped out.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:22PM (#33547174)

    if energy five times the price means the products of such mean more local jobs, and more people off the streets,

    If the US government increased the price of energy by a factor of five, then that would be even more of an incentive to ship manufacturing abroad.

  • by WillyWanker (1502057) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:28PM (#33547240)
    Yes, heaven forbid a government do something to force idiot consumers to save energy. Oh the horror of a socially-responsible government. I'm sorry you are so burdened by having to use non-incandescent lightbulbs. Such oppression must surely weigh on your soul. How do you manage to get up in the morning and make it thru your day?
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:30PM (#33547256)

    Any adult working a minimum wage job in the US qualifies for public assistance in a variety of ways. Employers who pay this wage are effectively being subsidized by the government.

    There is no benefit to the US economy to have subsidized businesses operating in its economy. And subsidized low wage employees are a disincentive to capital investment to improve the productivity of workers, which is ultimately a drag on the economy.

    China's low wages, effectively managed by excessively low Yuan valuation are a big disincentive to modernization there. Eventually I am sure that China will realize that mercantilism on the scale they are attempting won't work - you can't drag 1.3 billion people to modern consumer lifestyles by selling cheap light bulbs to a country with a population of 300 million.

    We just don't need that many light bulbs.

    And building an economic model based on sub min wage workers who are government subsidized so they won't starve is flat out stupid.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:33PM (#33547278)

    That site is a little over the top, don't you think? For example:

    Before Cleanup: Air Out the Room

    • Have people and pets leave the room, and don't let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
    • Open a window and leave the building unoccupied for ten days or more.
    • Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and permanently disconnect the vents from the room, if you have one.
  • by lgw (121541) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:38PM (#33547330) Journal

    The government keeps your energy prices artificially low. I think that gives them the right to make sure you're not pissing away energy. Or would you rather electricity was five times the current price?

    No, no, and Hell NO! That idea is poison. The government does not get the right to stick it's nose into my daily life just to save money. My personal liberty is more important than saving a little money and fuck anyone who sells their own personal liberty so cheaply. At least hold out for a little imagined safety or something, geez.

  • Re:CFL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:50PM (#33547412)

    Ok, the CFL save some energy, but they sure add more pollutants

    Nonsense. I put a CFL light over my front porch stairs 8 years ago, and it still works fine despite being exposed outdoor temperature extremes. It's been on an average of 6 hours per day, saving 45W over the equivalent incandescent bulb. That adds up to a savings of 790kWh (2800MJ). Since it typically takes about 3 joules of thermal energy in a coal plant to deliver 1 joule of electricity to the consumer, that corresponds to 8500MJ, or almost 1000 pounds of coal saved by this single light bulb.

    What would you rather have: a few grams of plastic and chemicals sealed in a landfill, or 1/2 ton of CO2, sulfur and other pollutants in the air you breath?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:51PM (#33547426)

    I'm gonna go stock up on full spectrum Incandescents for the next 20 years so that I don't have lighting that makes me want to kill myself. And yes, CFLs do induce depression in me. Mainly because of how poorly they light paper and textbooks.

  • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@@@gmail...com> on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:51PM (#33547430) Homepage

    Hopefully these employees are getting retraining, education, and whatever other resources they need to find jobs

    Oh I'm sure they're getting something, but whether or not it's anywhere close to useful is another question altogether. Anywho, the obvious question for me becomes this. When all the basic work goes away, who's gonna keep buying all this stuff when there are no jobs?

    It's rather...short sighted.

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @03:54PM (#33547440)

    If CFLs are really so wonderful then there's no need for the government to get involved because people will buy them instead of ordinary bulbs. But they're not, so they're being forced on people who don't want them.

    You're missing the obvious point ON PURPOSE. The point is that no one will switch to a cheaper version that requires more initial investment, even if it clearly saves a lot of energy.

    It has been like this for most more efficient technologies on customer side. Until the initial investment is either heavily subsidized, or the previous one banned, progress will not happen. This is basic human nature, to use the old thing "that works", and bitch about "new thing that doesn't work (exactly like the old one used to)".

    Fun part: if you don't buy the cheapest bulb, but a quality one for a 30-50% higher price then the trashy one, most of the problems people whine about when they talk about CFLs and LEDs go away. Which again brings us to stupidity of being cheap.

    There's an old saying: "I'm not rich enough to buy cheap things".

  • by FlyingGuy (989135) <flyingguy AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday September 11, 2010 @04:03PM (#33547508)

    You are an idiot, it's just that simple.

    No industry in the US can compete with another country where the wages are 1/100th of what a similar US worker needs to get paid for doing the same job.

    Have you noticed the prices of any of the following going down to a level that a worker can can still have a decent lifestyle in this country while being paid the equivalent of wages paid in China which is less the ONE dollar an hour?

    • Housing
    • Land
    • Transportation
    • Food
    • Utilities ( electricity, heating oil, natural gas )
    • Clothing
    • Education

    Think you can live anywhere in this country making One dollar an hour? Or anywhere in the UK making One Pound an hour? Or anywhere in the EU making One Euro an hour besides perhaps in a dumpster behind a Wal-Mart?

    What kind of job do you have? i bet it is in IT. Trust me, if they could figure out a way to outsource your ass to China, they would and that person might be getting paid the Chinese equivalent of 5 dollars an hour. Can you live where you live right now and maintain your lifestyle on 5 dollars an hour? Yeah I didn't think so.

  • by Spoke (6112) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @04:10PM (#33547556)

    Not only that, but you can get a 3x improvement in efficiency by replacing those inefficient electrical resistance based heaters with a heat-pump.

    A standard 90% efficient gas furnace will also be more energy efficient than electrical resistance heating (since the best power plants are only about 60% efficient and most of our electricity currently comes from burning fossil fuels.

    Now - if you life in an area where most of your electricity is generated from renewables or nuclear - that changes things a bit.

  • Re:CFL (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) * <myfirstnameispaul@gmail.com> on Saturday September 11, 2010 @04:11PM (#33547572) Homepage Journal
    What is the cost, in MJ, of the recycling of the CFL bulbs vs simple disposal of the incandescent bulbs? What is the environmental cost of the increased mercury being added to our landfills (for those who don't properly recycle)?
  • by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @04:13PM (#33547588) Homepage

    Euhm - no. Transport costs would go up by a factor of 5. Which would force at least a few products to be produced locally.

  • by lgw (121541) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @04:59PM (#33547954) Journal

    You think wasting energy is evil, a sin, and you are right here proselytize over it, and advocating that the government outlaw that sin. How is the any different at all from an old-school televangelist arguing that homosexuality is a sin, and advocating that the government outlaw that sin? That fire-and-brinstone guy is more certain that he's right, and more passionate about it, and motiviates more people to vote - why shouldn't he win?

    Your values are contentious. Some disagree that energy conservation is important at all (beyond the money conservation aspect), while others would damn you to Hell (or at least a slightly warmer Earth: less motivating if you ask me) for the sin of Carbon Emission. In a democracy, the laws are set by those who get the most votes - scientists don't get to vote twice. Are you still sure you want the governemnt to have the power to intervene in daily buying decisions? Keep in mind, that intervention won't have a rational basis, if history is any guide!

  • by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @05:07PM (#33548018)

    Look, I have to live in North America for a few years. Now I can see the consequences of the absence of gov regulations on efficiency. The washing machine is a model which is technologically on par with the cheapest model on sale in supermarkets in Morocco (I shit you not). It was hell getting a cooking surface in vitro-ceramics. Convection oven? No can do unless you import it from Germany and sell a couple organs.

    It is a huge joke. Of course they can't sell their junk outside of America: the rest of the world has moved on, and although the transition to ever more efficient systems meant the the consumer had to pay a premium along the way, the end result is that the quality of everything you buy is so much better that after having seen it both ways, I can tell you: it is worth it.

    Because the sad economic fact is that there is some price people are ready to buy for any widget. If the efficiency of the widget is mandated, you get the efficient widget at that price. Otherwise you get the cheap to manufacture widget at the same price. This is why the US is losing manufacturing to China, and Germany is not: there is plenty of room in the high end, there is infinite potential for innovation, but you have to help it happen. And people hate change: even if the alternative is in all ways better, they will not change (think linux and windows). Change is social. There is a strong role of government not in innovation, but in forcing companies to innovate, through the means of efficiency targets, for example.

  • by Xyrus (755017) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @05:07PM (#33548024) Journal

    First, you have the problem of power factor, which means that with fluorescent bulbs, you're often drawing a lot more power than you think, it just isn't getting metered that way.

    Bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

    Do you honestly think for one second that a power company would honestly not charge you if you were actually consuming more power than you really are? Do you think for one second that power companies would offer INCENTIVES to switch to CFLs if they were really consuming more power and were less efficient than incandescent lights? Or is there some other inane reason why a company would purposefully put itself into a position to be forced into building out infrastructure to support the power demand of all these inefficient CFLs?

    Second, you have the spectrum of light, which because it is balanced towards the blue end and because it isn't a continuous spectrum, isn't perceived as being of equal brightness. To get the same perceptual brightness, IIRC, you are drawing slightly more power with fluorescent bulbs than with modern incandescent (e.g. halogen) designs, and approaching that of plain jane incandescent bulbs.

    Subjective nonsense, and also incorrect. I have 100W "warm" (2500-3000K) CFLs that are just as bright as any 100W incandescent I've ever used, and they use a fraction of of the energy. Since the human eye is most responsive to green light, then physically speaking CFLs should appear BRIGHTER as they have a strong emission line there. Your visual preferences may differ.

    And that's before you add in things like the increase in depression [fullspectr...utions.com], suicides, and cancer [reason.com] linked with fluorescent lighting.

    Correlation is not equal to causality. That should be pretty damn obvious in your second link. Your first link also is not a surprise, and has little to do with flourscent lighting. It's well know that lack of adequate lighting over a period of time can contribute to problems like depression if you already have them. Incandescents won't help. Sunlight will. Locking kids up inside for 8 hours a day with no sun exposure isn't going to improve with incandescent bulbs. Nor will the cost of the massively larger power bill and maintenance cost for replacing the damn things every 3 months.

    Regardless, if there was a serious issue I'm pretty sure someone would have raised it by now. Or is there another conspiracy in there you're just itching to tell us about.

    We're getting massively screwed.

    Yes we are, but not by this.

    BTW, the government isn't subsidizing energy significantly. Maybe a little, but certainly not a favor of two, much less five.

    ROFL.

  • by HisMother (413313) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @05:37PM (#33548286)
    Ain't that the truth. They won't need to declare war -- they'll just need to stop selling us shit.
  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms.infamous@net> on Saturday September 11, 2010 @06:48PM (#33548732) Homepage

    I sat down and did the math a couple of years ago and concluded that I would never break even.

    You did the math wrong.

    First, you have the problem of power factor, which means that with fluorescent bulbs, you're often drawing a lot more power than you think, it just isn't getting metered that way

    No, you don't -- and you're contradicting yourself. If there was more power being drawn, but somehow it wasn't being metered, then it wouldn't effect your break-even, you'd be getting the extra power for free. But in fact, there is no extra power [homepower.com]. Watts are watts; don't be confused that they don't always equal volt-amps in non-DC circuits.

    you have the spectrum of light, which because it is balanced towards the blue end and because it isn't a continuous spectrum

    Full spectrum CFLs are inexpensively available [expresslightbulbs.com].

    And that's before you add in things like the increase in depression, suicides, and cancer linked with fluorescent lighting.

    Comparing the standard industrial flickering "cool-white" fluorescent lighting with CFLs is ridiculous. Indeed, the first page you link to mentions a study by Ott comparing "full-spectrum, radiation-shielded fluorescent light fixtures" with the usual white tubes. If you read the page you linked to, you'd see it's not fluorescent lighting versus incandescent that the problem.

    As for the second link, the study in question found that women in neighborhoods with lots of night-time illumination are more likely to get breast cancer [washingtonpost.com]. (Not surprisingly, the ironically-named Reason distorts the findings.) Linking that to fluorescent lighting rather than general interference with circadian rhythms, is speculative at best.

  • by Miamicanes (730264) on Saturday September 11, 2010 @07:27PM (#33549018)

    > does it matter? oh were out of coal and natural gas, time to rape the poor people after they just bought 14$ lightbulbs

    I don't know about where you live, but the United States most certainly is "out" of neither. The US has more coal and natural gas than it literally knows what to do with. The problem with coal is that it nasty stuff every inch of the way, from mining to burning. The problem with natural gas is its low energy density, so the only way to viably transport it in bulk long distances in quantities larger than those needed to fuel an occasional barbecue is via pipeline... and US pipeline capacity is grossly inadequate right now. The good news is that new pipelines are under construction... and have been for the past 10 years. The bad news is that they're still about a decade away from making a meaningful dent in winter capacity shortfalls. In the long run, though, if push came to shove, the US has enough of both to last for centuries... at fairly low prices, too.

    I personally don't understand the fetish everyone seems to have with LEDs. Joules per lumen, there's almost no meaningful difference at room-lighting quantities between the energy use of CFL and LEDs. Heatsink fans aren't exactly powered by goodwill.

    Fluorescent tubes are great when you need lots of relatively diffuse light. LEDs are great when you either need a tiny, tiny bit of light with minimal ceremony or drama, and when you need a fair amount of very, very directional light. They make great backlights, indicator lights, and spotlights. They suck for general room illumination unless you go to ridiculous lengths to try and herd a few hundred of them into simulating the radiation pattern of a normal light bulb. Both have their appropriate uses, and so do incandescent bulbs. I wouldn't use an incandescent bulb for a main light in my house that burns for half the day every day. I most certainly WOULD use an incandescent bulb in a shed where it might burn for 20 minutes per week, and a CFL would be corroded by Florida's climate within a year or two. Humid, salty air does really ugly things to CFL bulbs when you use them in conditions that are semi-indoors, but not climate-controlled (like sheds, garages, etc). I know, because the CFL bulbs in my porch light seem to average 8-14 months of life before they die... incandescent bulbs in the same fixture lasted for years.

  • by macshit (157376) <[gro.ung] [ta] [selim]> on Saturday September 11, 2010 @08:00PM (#33549174) Homepage

    If you don't like bluish CFLs, get yellowish ones. There are 3 colors, one is very yellow.

    Hmm, the thing is, all of the "yellow" CFLs I've seen haven't been a very good replacement for incandescents -- the yellow seemed "sickly and weird" rather than "warm" like incandescents.

    I dunno, maybe they'll eventually come up with phosphor formulations that are more pleasant, but until they do, I rather like my incandescent lamp (only one, and only 60w, but it's so nice and relaxing...).

  • Re:Sold out by GE? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, 2010 @10:32PM (#33549892)

    No, but there are always ways to make things work. They didn't try. Jack Welch (may he burn in hell some day), former CEO of GE who practically invented outsourcing, created a corporate culture of screwing over workers and managed to sell that culture to multinationals everywhere. Let's see, the plant wasn't profitable, they don't do anything to make it profitable, and they use that to justify their outsourcing to China, where you have government (not free market) mandated slave labor. American Capitalism at its absolute finest! Gotta internalize those profits and externalize those costs, after all. Pollution? Somebody else's problem if we can put it in a country without regulations about such things. Worker safety? They only cost a dollar an hour, they're not worth it. It's not screwing over the American worker--alone. It's screwing over Americans in general. The sooner everyone gets off their Libertarian corporate-friendly asses and figures out that "free markets" don't work the better.

  • by mcrbids (148650) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @12:12AM (#33550326) Journal

    BTW LED lighting is my job so prepare for a MASSIVE smackdown if you wanna go toe to toe.

    Sensitive much, methinks. Therefore, I conclude that either A) You are really an idiot with just enough knowledge to think he's "in", or B) You are really somebody I don't want to know too well.

    In either event, I'm guessing that you probably don't get invited to many parties.

  • by plague911 (1292006) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @02:44AM (#33550918)
    "For example, we have two CFL lights here that the previous owners installed and we've already had to replace one of those light fixtures because it melted"

    too bad when the light fixture was melting it didnt hit you in the head and knock some sense into you.. if Your fixture had a problem it had nothing to do with the fact that it had a CFL in it..

    The nicest way I can think of saying this is. "You are fucking stupid stupid stupid for linking those two together".

    Man all I can say is I hope your not the smartest one in your family.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @07:51AM (#33551808) Journal
    Congratulations, you win the Taco Award for the post with the most replies deserving a 'Whoosh!'.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:02AM (#33551838) Journal

    Not sure where you were outside the USA, but in the UK the kind of cookers that you'll find in most rented accommodation are painfully primitive too. The last two places I rented had cookers that were decades old, and that's pretty common. People spend a lot more on kitchen appliances when they are going to be using them.

    Rentals are actually a big problem for efficiency. My last house had no loft insulation at all. There are council subsidies available for install it, so it's quite cheap, but the cost has to be paid by the landlord. Meanwhile, the cost of heating is paid by the tenant. What is the landlord's incentive to spend money on something that will save the tenant money? Exactly the same thing happens with appliances - why bother putting an efficient fridge/freezer/washing machine in the flat, when someone else is going to be paying the electricity bill?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:08AM (#33551860)

    lgw's law: you cannot make a comment criticizing spelling or grammar on the internet without that complaint post also containing a spelling or grammar mistake. This applies even when criticizing your own posts, of course. Also, as we say here: your an idiot.

    Only some of us say "your an idiot". The rest of us say you're and idiot.

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