This letter is in reference to the article that appeared in the Jan. 26 Business section concerning the banning of 40 and 60 watt incandescent bulbs due to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Mr. Herholdt, director of the West Virginia Division of Energy, made statements about the fluorescent bulb, its uses and disposal that were mostly fallacies.
Mr. Herholdt said the fluorescent bulb lasts "10 times longer than its incandescent cousin." After doing some experimenting with both types several years ago, I found the fluorescent bulb takes 10 minutes or more to come to full power. Many times, I'll go in a room to get something at night, turn the light on, get what I want, and then turn the light off. I'd be fumbling around in the dark with a fluorescent bulb.
Fluorescent bulbs cannot be used with dimmer switches. Since fluorescents need to warm up to full power, they burn out faster than incandescents in this case. The fluorescent is susceptible to cold and doesn't last as long as the incandescent in this respect. Industry testing to rate the longevity of a fluorescent versus an incandescent bulb is conducted by leaving the respective bulbs on for a certain time period. In that, the fluorescent lasts longer, However, when the bulbs are turned on and off during that same time period, the incandescent lasts longer, which in my opinion, makes it the better choice for longevity.
Most importantly, the incandescent bulb can safely be put in the trash when it is burned out. If a person is environmentally conscious at all, they should not put the broken fluorescent bulb in the trash as Mr. Herholdt suggests. Yes, the bulb contains only a trace amount of mercury, but think about what thousands of those in a landfill will do over a period of time. Germany learned landfills were poisoned with mercury from the fluorescent bulbs. The EPA's website describes the proper way to clean up a broken fluorescent bulb. These steps include getting all people and pets out of the affected area, opening windows, turning off air conditioning or the furnace, putting on rubber gloves, recycling the bulb, etc.
Mr. Herholdt was right when he said "the choice is in the hands of the average homeowner, and how they want to impact the environment." My choice is to continue to hoard incandescent bulbs until something better, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly comes along.
Carol St. Peter