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Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Friday 22 August 2003 at 5:08 pm My wife is the queen of leaving lights on all over the house. I am the king of lighting in our house. We have a lot of incandescent and halogen lighting in hour house, because it casts a warmer light, which I prefer.

However, lately I've been on a kick to get her to stop leaving the lights on in the bathroom and the kitchen. She tends to leave them on when she leaves the house at 7:00am, and they are on until I get up around 9am. Yeah, it's only two hours, costing us, well, oh, 3 cents. What the hell am I thinking? There are 4 60 watt bulbs in the bathroom and 5 60 watt bulbs in the kitchen, for a grand total of 540 watts. We get charged $0.0263 per kilowattHour, so at 1080 watts over 2 hours, that's just over $0.0263 dollars. Crap. My argument sucked. I lose.

But I still wanted to save energy somehow. Now I'm a geek, so I run my computer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I now turn off my monitor now (even though it has power saving energy star crap, but this guy got me thinking about that), and my speakers when I leave, and just turn them back on again when I come back. I have my drive spin down after an hour of inactivity. I don't really know how much each PC is using up, but I figure it's around 100-150 watts. It costs me $2.84 per month to run one PC, and I have 3, so we're up to $9 per month for my PCs. Then add the refrigerator. Probably like $15-20 per month. Then the air conditioner. Geez. And I'm bitching over 1.5 cents an hour?

Well, I thought yeah, I'm not gonna save much, but I'll try anyway. So I bought a Compact Fluorescent light bulb at Home Depot. Thinking I was all cool and environmentally friendly (saving electricity saves the need to produce the power, and thus cuts down on pollution and use of coal and stuff), I installed it, and flipped the switch.

A dull, very dim light shown through the frosted glass. I stared at it. I looked at the box. 16 watts. Argh. I thought they said this would be better. A minute later, it was blaring a full 850 lumens of light (about what a 60 watt incandescent puts off). Ok, so it takes time to warm up. That sucks. I want an instant-on bulb. One that turns on instantly, like my T8 4' tube fluorescent bulbs. What's the deal?

So I've looked around the Internet, and can find no explination of what to look for in a compact fluorescent bulb to make sure it will turn on immediately. I don't mind if it flickers, as long as it is at full blast by the time I hit the bottom basement step. That's all I ask. But no, none of the packaging says a damn thing about it. How am I supposed to know that I have to wait 60 seconds for this bulb to come on full? I don't want to wait. I am Generation X, and I want my light NOW damnit!

I still have the same problem. 60 seconds for light. It blows. I can't figure out why, but I'm pretty sure it works the way it was intended -- it's just that nobody can tell me why it works that way, or how to find one that uses less electricity AND comes on instantly at full luminosity.

Why does saving energy have to be so damn difficult?