Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Energy saving lightbulbs--they'll save energy, but will they save you money?

Kiss your 100-watt lightbulb goodbye

Starting in 2012, new nationwide efficiency standards for incandescent light bulbs go into effect. However, in California and Nevada, they're already going ahead, a year early. Energy savings are expected to be about 25 to 30 percent, with the bulbs supposedly costing about the same amount. No mention was made of whether the bulbs will last a comparable amount of time to the old ones, or will mysteriously burn out quicker. Frankly, I would not be at all surprised if they burn out quicker. However, the primary point I wanted to make relates to this:

California's energy commission said the state's move will avoid the sale of 10.5 million inefficient 100-watt bulbs this year and save consumers $35.6 million in higher electricity bills. [emphasis added]

That may be true in California. I don't actually know. However, where I live, if overall electricity usage by the general public declines, which would result in reduced revenue for electric utilities, the utility companies are allowed to increase their rates to compensate. I've already seen this happen once in the past year.

I can understand the need for that, actually. Maintenance costs on the electrical grid are going to stay the same or increase, regardless of usage. I can't imagine how that wouldn't be true for California as well. It may not be feasible to require electric utilities to keep their rates the same if usage goes down. However, if that is the case, then politicians and the press need to stop lying about this sort of regulation.

Personally, I've already mostly switched to compact fluorescents (which are a whole other can of worms).



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