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November 27, 2006



I'm all for a more efficient light bulb, but we need better alternatives than currently available fluorescent lighting. The light quality is atrocious. I keep bringing home the latest "full spectrum" fluorescent light that promises to solve the problem, but they all fall way short of acceptible.

When presented with a choice between lower energy usage on the one hand, and a depressed wife and hyperactive kids on the other, it's tough to be green.

Maybe when LED lighting becomes affordable...

Stephen Boulet

My 2 cents, worth every penny: ;)

For SAD, there's the goLite (http://www.apollohealth.com/product_overview.html)

For the kids, I'd recommend a teaspoon of cod liver oil each day.

Good luck!



I bought some GE Softwhite 75W equivalent compact fluorescent bulbs a while back and don't think they have any of the quality problems you speak of. Might be worth a shot.

Harvey D.


We have about 50 florescent lights around the house and we have not noticed any of the problems you described.

Do you have a good family doctor? or outside sports?


I can deal with the color temperature of CFs, but the thing that drives me nuts is that the light output is substantially impaired until the bulb is warm. This takes long enough to occur that I'm tempted to not turn them off when I leave a room, so the light will be bright enough when (if) I come back. Kinda defeats the purpose, eh? Do they all do that or have I just not found a good one?

Michael Cain

When presented with a choice between lower energy usage on the one hand, and a depressed wife and hyperactive kids on the other...

Most of the vendors seem to be using a "divide by four" rule in setting their equivalences: they want to sell you a 15W CF bulb to replace a 60W incandescent. We found that depressing because the place seemed darker. Using "divide by three" and replacing the 60W heater with a 20W CF did the trick for us.

david foster

I wonder if anyone has adjusted the energy savings estimates for thermal effects. During the summer, incandescents put out heat that must be removed by the A/C: hence, energy savings is actually greater than a bulb-to-bulb comparison would indicate. In winter, the opposite is true since the heat from the incandescent reduces the need for heating from other sources.


Banning incandescent lighting outright is silly. I have an incandescent light bulb in my attic that gets used maybe 2 hours per year. I use the ceiling light in my bedroom so infrequently that the bulbs were 20 years old before one burned out (60 watt bulbs rated for 1000 hours). These are good places for incandescents.

On the other hand, I used to replace the light bulbs in the kitchen light fixtures a couple times per year. These have long since been switched over to compact fluorescents.

BTW, when replacing incandescents with CF lamps, I use the next higher stated equivalent. I.E, if I am replacing a 60 watt incandescent, I use a CF lamp which is stated to replace a 75 watt incandescent. The recommended swaps are just too dim. I even used a light meter to confirm my what my eyes were telling me.

kent beuchert

No, I'm quite sure no one has tried to account for thermal effects because 1) they
don't say that they do- they simply go by wattages used; 2) it would be very hard, since climates vary, as well as personal preferences for ambient temps. There are also changes in the lighting requirements due to seasonal changes in exterior ambient light, making any claims of so much lighting per day invalid. It might take a goodly part of one's life to attempt to untangle waht is, for the most part, seems a pretty inconsequential factor.

kent beuchert

I went to WAl-Mart and bought 6 of their
energy saving bulbs - 60 watt equivalent
seemed to fill the bill and replaced those
bulbs that get a lot of usage. Bulbs that I
very seldom use I left alone-it would not be cost effective for them until they at least fail and have to be replaced. The bulbs draw 13 watts, which reduces the electrical usage by almost 80 percent. They account for the vast bulk of non-flourescent light in my place. They will each save many dollars over their lifespan. I was thinking that if everyone did something as simple as what I did, the effects would be rather enormous. I have no problems with the light emitted - the bedroom lamp looks the same to me. But even if it were somewhat different, so what? I can't imagine anyone making a big deal out of something as inconsequential as that.


My wife and I have managed to cut our electricity usage almost in half by following two simple steps:

1. We replaced all of our bulbs with CFLs (except for one fixture which seems to burn through CFLs in a matter of weeks) when they were on sale out our local hardware store.

2. We've gotten really vigilant about turning off stuff we're not using. Especially computers, which used to be left on 24-7.

We started doing both of these things at the same time so its hard to say which had more of an effect, but going from 600KwH/month to 300KwH/mo is a pretty big impact. I haven't noticed any problems with the CFLs being too dark, taking a long time to warm up, or making me depressed - and I work from home so I'm under them pretty much all day and night.


But even if it were somewhat different, so what? I can't imagine anyone making a big deal out of something as inconsequential as that.

Some people have profound reactions to light levels and color. Depression caused by low light levels in winter is so well known that it has its own name: Seasonal Affective Disorder. Sometime back in the 60's or early 70's there was a line of fluorescents with a pinkish tinge that was known for making people grouchy. There have been all kinds of studies of the effect of color on human and animal behavior- it's a real effect, although not everyone experiences it.

European Lighting

Very informative article. I'll definitely reconsider the use of incandescent light bulbs.

Dennis D Guy

I have read that it is proper to leave florescent lights on because the major cost is in replacing ballasts whose lifespan is determined by 3 of times fixture is turned on and off. The opposite is true with incandescent bulbs. How rue is this?

Duncan Munday

We sell heaps of low energy light bulbs to consumers but have a concern these all contain small amounts of mercury and although we have the WEEE directive in place the government are not doing enough to promote this and help people recycle these lamps so they just go into landfill to add to the growing pollution.

Duncan Munday

Many of you make some good points. interesting was the arugement that incandescent lamps are appropriate or acceptable for rooms that are not used very often. I don't think that incandescent lamps should be frowned upon, they should just be used in the right places and for the right amount of time. I would suggest howver that in rooms with alot of light useage, Led lightbulbs are the way to go. In terms of exterior lighting, PIR sensors and photocells are a great way to control how much light is used and reduce wasteage. Visit www.deslamps.co.uk for more information and tips of energy saving lighting.

Bob Wallace

I'd say that LEDs will be the way to go.

Sometime in the future when prices fall to a more reasonable level.

And that's said by someone who paid $18 for his first CFL and was happy to do so.

And I'd say that people should contact the site administrator and buy space if they want to advertise their business rather than spamming the site.

Ace Lamps

LED lighting will definately be the way forward, the prices will drop soon once demand has increased making them more available to everyone. PIR sensors could also be used indoors to turn lights off automatically when no one is in the rooms


I have started using these really energy saving curtains by Eclipse; found that they really reduced my electric bills and even let me sleep better. Check them out at eclipsecurtains.com

Brighton Up!

led lighting is great i love the way blue ones look on my fish tank at night


All very interesting but there are those of us whom are allergic to such bulbs in my case its not the flicker but the light quality itself,I spent 4 years trying to find out why I couldn't
sleep ,why I felt like I was on the brink of some strange seizure/fit, Mood swings , Anxiety/ panic attacks (I changed my diet- not that it was particularly Bad by any means) stopped drinking coffee for 6 months, stopped smoking - for 3 months, No Alcohol for a year. And then my partner Came home with a daily mail from the gym, I read this paper with some degree of scepticism/ a pinch of salt, but the article about energy saving bulbs proved to be very helpful,It had never occurred to me that this would be the problem.
Throughout the entire house the bulbs were swapped and within the next 2 weeks No more funk,Panic attacks as well as a sleeping pattern normalized, I was amazed at after those 4 long years this was the simple solution which literally stared me in the face day and night, Bliss. And now a Ban on all bulbs of old; its as clumsy and crude as the bulbs we will be made to use


I think LED lighting is a better way of creating energy efficient lighting, simply because of the mercury that is released by CFLs. I'd say the environmental gap between LEDs and CFLs is at least as large as the gap between CFLs and incandescent bulbs.

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