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Blog of Mass Destruction

Dimmer Bulbs

By The Reverend Published: March 10, 2012

In Da King's latest.....the Obama administration is pilloried over a $10 million contest award for a new fangled, super efficient, LED light bulb. The problem, according to King, other than what's viewed by him as a waste of $10 million, is the opening retail price of Philips Electronics' new bulb....$50 per bulb.

In the posting, mockery is reserved for Energy Secretary, Steven Chu's stated goal of producing new efficient light bulbs at prices "affordable for American families."

I agree with King that $50 is a high price tag....up front....for a new light bulb. However, as I will explain shortly....$50 per bulb is a genuine bargain for homeowners.

The backdrop of any story is important. The backdrop surrounding this $50 light bulb story can be best summed up by the girl with the faraway eyes, Michele Bachmann...

"I think Thomas Edison did a pretty patriotic thing for this country by inventing the light bulb," she said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. "And I think darn well, you New Hampshirites, if you want to buy Thomas Edison's wonderful invention, you should be able to!"

Bachmann.....and this seems true of many conservatives....holds to the notion that conserving, in this case electricity, is, somehow, an infringement upon Americans "freedom." I heard this tune being played during the Bush presidency when gasoline rocketed up to $4+ per gallon. Some conservative talkers then were spouting off about their "liberty" to waste gasoline in huge, military-looking, passenger vehicles labeled Hummers. Somehow, Americans were different. They were entitled to own and drive the most inefficient vehicles.....and the reason most often given in support was that Americans were free.

Back to the bulb.

The following information is all available here.

The new Philips bulb lasts 30 times longer than typical filament incandescent bulbs. At $1 per incandescent bulb, comparative up front costs would be $30 for the old style bulb versus $50 for the Philips bulb. Plus the time spent in changing the incandescent bulb 30 times. However, as my source points out, the original Washington Post hit piece which King riffed off of....misled it's reader on the power usage comparison.

...then you have to add in the cost of electricity. Both types will provide about 30,000 hours of lighting. But a regular bulb burns 60 watts per hour or 1,800 kilowatt hours over the decade. The LED bulb burns a sixth of that or 300 KWH over the decade.

Even at a dime (per Kilowatt hour), the difference in electricity costs for the two competing lighting systems would not be $3 versus $18, but $30 versus $180.

One new Philips LED bulb at the full price of $50...without subtracting any power-company rebates 30,000 hours of electricity costs at $30 ....$50 pricetag + $30 for electricity = $80 total over 30,000 usage hours.

30 new incandescent bulbs would cost $30 at $1 per bulb....with no power-company 30,000 hours of electricity to light those bulbs at $180. Total cost of 30 equivalent $1 incandescent bulbs would equal $210.

The question on everyone's mind? Which is lower, $80 or $210?

Now....consider....that's only the comparative numbers for ONE bulb. Change all your old Thomas Edison bulbs and...over will save thousands of dollars. And that's even true at Philips opening high price at $50 per bulb, which will surely come down in time.

To illustrate how silly it is to mock the Energy Dept's contest and the $50 per bulb eventual-winner....

My wife's new employer is currently finishing up with replacing their old-style, commercial-flourescent lighting system with an Orion Systems, high efficiency, new fangled lighting system. It's not LED-based, yet the new lighting will save the company FIFTY PERCENT on electricity costs. The system costs approximately $8000 to buy and install with Ohio Edison rebating $4000...yes $4000. Mrs. Reverend says the quality of the new lighting, alone, is worth the change. But I've done some preliminary calculations, and I'm estimating that the company's $4000 upfront cost will be more than offset in a little over a year. After that time the company will be saving hundreds monthly.

Is saving money....losing freedom?

It pays to conserve energy. Simple as that. Any new energy-savings innovations are not threats to our freedom...for crying out loud....they are intelligent methods of SAVING MONEY ON ENERGY. For me, I want the federal government to stimulate innovation....and especially if, as is the case with the Philips bulb....consumers can save thousands of dollars over time on the products emerging from stimulating innovation.

It's been tough for opponents of Obama...I understand that....he's an excellent politician, unmatched by anyone on the GOP side. But conservatives who knee-jerk to embrace any and all new criticisms of the president.......replicating those criticisms without vetting the information behind the criticism....are only making themselves look more ignorant and out of touch with the real world.



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