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Compact Flourescent Gender Gap

2007-04-30 17:25:31.055922+00 by Dan Lyke 14 comments

Interesting: Fluorescent Bulbs Are Known to Zap Domestic Tranquillity, or "why is there a gender gap on the issue of compact flourescents?":

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week showed that while women are more likely than men to say they are "very willing" to change behavior to help the environment, they are less likely to have CFL bulbs at home. Wal-Mart company research shows a similar "disconnect" between the pro-environmental attitudes of women shoppers and their in-store purchases of CFL bulbs.

I know that in this household I'm the instigator to keep trying CFLs, and Charlene keeps pointing out that they suck and switching us back.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-04-30 17:56:24.927276+00 by: Dan Lyke

And, of course, there's always the risk of breakage with a CFL, to the tune of two thousand bucks for a Maine resident:

The DEP sent a specialist to Bridges' house to test for mercury contamination. The specialist found mercury levels in the bedroom in excess of six times the state's "safe" level for mercury contamination of 300 billionths of a gram per cubic meter. The DEP specialist recommended that Bridges call an environmental cleanup firm, which reportedly gave her a "low-ball" estimate of US$2,000 to clean up the room. The room then was sealed off with plastic and Bridges began "gathering finances" to pay for the US$2,000 cleaning. Reportedly, her insurance company wouldn't cover the cleanup costs because mercury is a pollutant.

Given that the replacement of incandescent bulbs with CFLs in the average U.S. household is touted as saving as much as US$180 annually in energy costs -- and assuming that Bridges doesn't break any more CFLs -- it will take her more than 11 years to recoup the cleanup costs in the form of energy savings.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-04-30 19:16:29.638663+00 by: Diane Reese

I don't like how slow they are to come up to brightness, and they stick out of the fixtures in an odd way, and the part that sticks out is too bright for my eyes, and their light hurts my eyes.

The CFL bulbs, like other fluorescents, make skintones appear sickly and washed-out, which leads many of us to dislike the way we look in mirrors under the light they provide. I realized not long ago that I do react to this, even though I don't do so consciously. My eyes just don't see as well under fluorescents, and for all my other green-ness, I do resist the CFLs.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-04-30 19:35:43.449274+00 by: ebradway

We use CFLs throughout our apartment because of heat. When we first moved in, Colorado was having a hotter-than-usual Summer and we don't have AC. Switching to CFLs made a big difference.

I do have some light fixtures with incandescents because the cheaper CFLs don't fit. While I haven't noticed too much of a difference in light color (our bathroom has a span of those clear incandescents - so in the mirror everything is warm and dandy).

But I do have a friend here who sells full spectrum CFLs. I've seen a direct comparison with a GE standard CFL and it does look better. I don't think this is here site, but this place sells some that even alleviate the mercury problem:


#Comment Re: made: 2007-04-30 20:06:32.918613+00 by: Dan Lyke

Grins. One of my pet peeves is the use of the phrase "full spectrum" to describe flourescents. They may have a different apparent color temperature, but by definition flourescents aren't full spectrum (which is why they're more efficient than incandescents). And while I can believe that the apparent color curve of the light that your link is selling looks that way, I'm darned sure it isn't nearly that smooth.

On the other hand, we have a "Verlux HappyLite" that we use on a timer as our alarm clock, and the color balance of that is noticeably different from other bulbs in the house, and I like it. So sometimes I just have to let people have their marketing jargon.

I don't even have an issue with buying fixtures specifically for them, and I like the fact that they've got a faster refresh rate than standard flourescents, but the half-life of every brand we've bought has been so bad that we end up switching them out more often than incandescents, at which point they're not saving us any money. I sneak a CF bulb into a socket, and six months later Charlene's complaining that the room's dark (which has been true), looks at the fixture, and replaces the bulb back to an incandescent, which lasts for a year or three.

And we're careful about disposing of hazardous waste as hazardous waste, but I cringe when I think of 37 million Californians throwing the things in landfills.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-04-30 22:53:16.593792+00 by: petronius

The National Electrical Manufacturer's Association has this factsheet on mercury in CFLs. There really isn't much in one, and you will get far more contamination if you break a fever thermometer. Then you have to balance millions of CFLs against their greatly longer useful life, and the reduced amount of mercury put out by coal plants if we use less juice for lights.

I also think the hazmat guy in Maine was hosing the poor lady, giving her the CSI crime scene cleanup with furniture polishing for lack of anything more expensive.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-01 00:08:12.721399+00 by: Dan Lyke

But if only 56 percent of electricity generation comes from coal then it's a wash already (so far as I can tell that factsheet number of 10mG to run the incandescent for 5 years comes from claiming 100% of the electricity from coal), and our experiences put the replacement of a CFL at under a year, so even if we optimistically go to two years on a CFL we're at closer to 10mG from manufacture, 1.8mG from coal plants, for a total of almost 12mG for the CFL, versus under 6mG from the incandescent.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-01 17:57:26.716418+00 by: Dan Lyke

Others have pointed out that the guy behind the Maine story is a long-time climate change denier and pusher of assorted other junk science.

But my complaints about the NEMA factsheet and assumptions about CFL life still stand, just this morning I noticed that the light in our bedroom, which we've replaced at least once since we moved in, is getting pretty dim.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-01 22:02:37.826261+00 by: ebradway

Dan, how's the voltage coming out of your walls?

In the past three years, I've only replaced one CFL and that was because I hit it with a piece of plywood.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-02 08:03:46.679532+00 by: TheSHAD0W

I have a few CFLs that I run 24 hours a day for security purposes, and haven't noticed them growing dimmer. Had to replace a few thanks to power spikes though.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-02 15:22:24.759993+00 by: Dan Lyke

Shadow, as I understand it there are two things that cause the degradation in CF bulbs, phosphors wearing out and electrodes corroding, and the latter is the usual cause of failure. The thing that causes the electrodes to pit or pick up random stuff is arcing during switching on and off, so you're just up against how long the phosphors will last.

And I think that the 5 year life is based on a 3 hour on off cycle, so part of our problem (aside from tracking down potential power issues) might just be training ourselves to leave the lights on rather than turning them off when we leave the room.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-02 18:48:39.790629+00 by: ziffle

"long-time climate change denier and pusher of assorted other junk science."

The junk science is those that claim that there is a man made cause for global warming. We are looking at an engine running from the view of an atom on a piston rod and assuming we can make decisons based upon that.

Global warming/cooling is not a recent phenomenon - its older than we are, folks. The Anasazi indians left because it was too hot. The Sahara desert used to be a wetlands. The Antarctica used to be a forest. There is global warming on Mars.


#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-02 19:05:01.318077+00 by: Dan Lyke

I don't know of anyone claiming that human involvement is the only thing causing global warming, but it's beyond absurd to claim that human involvement has no effect on global climate. That most of those claiming that human involvement has a minimal effect fall back on misquotes, bad statistics, and, in fact, claiming no effect, makes moe more likely to believe that the truth is further up the scale.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-03 21:14:17.484391+00 by: ebradway

Snopes takes on the CFL/Mercury thing

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-03 21:37:41.808515+00 by: ebradway

Some of the folks in the Geography department where I'm studying are very close to the climate debate. While most are physical geographers studying ice and enviroment, others are climatologists, and still others study human reaction to climate change. One of my classmates had to cut the semester short and is currently in Greenland measuring the melting of the ice sheet. One thing the department has also done is maintain a Long-Term Ecological Research station where climate data has been recorded consistently since 1952, including atmospheric carbon dioxide measurements.

The general attitude around the department is mostly humorous disbelief. The raw data compiled just by this department shows pretty clearly that the climate is changing rapidly and that human activity is a major factor in that rate of change. In fact, most of the department is focusing on questions like "how quickly is the climate changing" and "what kind of policies are best for dealing with the imminent forced-relocation of millions of people".

If any of you want, I can hook you up with some Summer work either in Greenland or in Colorado where you'll get to make measurements first-hand to try to make better estimates of these rates of change. Or, I can hook you up with people who are studying international policies, like Kyoto, and how they impact both economies and populations.

And you know what - if you happen to find some proof that everyone in the department is wrong, and that the climate is not changing or even that humans aren't affecting the change, you'll be praised as a hero because that is what we'd much rather find out.