Monday, October 20, 2008

The Downside of Compact Fluorescent Lighting

One energy efficiency proposal that has been heard frequently in the last two years is a ban on incandescent light bulbs, often coupled with a mandate to replace these bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting. Yet compact fluorescent lighting has advantages and disadvantages. This speech from the floor of the House of Representatives earlier this year highlights some of the more superficial problems of compact fluorescent lighting.

In this speech, Rep. Poe pointedly relies only on U.S. government documents and product packaging for his information. That is a way of emphasizing that his evaluation of the technology is not based on theories or emotions, but on established facts. There are other disadvantages of compact fluorescent lighting that are not nearly so obvious or certain, and with the various disadvantages, I do not believe any home should rely entirely on compact fluorescent lighting.

When a technology has both advantages and disadvantages, that also means that it is not suitable for every situation. Therefore, it really is not practical to have the central planners of the economy evaluate the technology and decide whether everyone should use it. Instead, we need to rely primarily on the ability of individuals to adapt the technology to specific situations.