December 13, 2008
National Center of Policy Analysis

NCPA: Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs Not Worth Cost and Trouble
Report Says Government Should Not Force CFLs on Consumers

DALLAS (Dec. 10, 2008) – Although touted by many as the smart energy choice, compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs are not suitable for many common uses and should not be required by the government, according to a new report by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

The Environmental Protection Agency states that CFLs will reduce energy use and will last longer than standard bulbs. However, NCPA Senior Fellow and report co-author Sterling Burnett argues: “For many uses, compact fluorescent bulbs may be more costly and troublesome than they’re worth.”

The NCPA analysis, co-authored by Amanda Berg, concludes that despite manufacturer claims, many CFLs don’t come close to lasting the 10,000 hours they are supposed to last. In addition, such bulbs aren’t effective in areas where lighting is only briefly needed, such as closets or bathrooms.

CFLs also contain potentially toxic mercury.  Thus, the report says, CFL disposal and breakage presents numerous health and environmental concerns.

“Compact fluorescent bulbs don’t last as long as advocates claim and broken bulbs – at home or in landfills – can create huge environmental problems,” Burnett said.

New efficiency standards will require manufacturers, by 2012, to produce bulbs that use less energy per unit of light produced – a requirement that can only be fulfilled by CFLs.

“The ban on incandescent bulbs will be costly and potentially dangerous.  The public has yet not embraced CFLs, and the government should not impose on consumers its preferences regarding the types of lights used in the home.  As the deficiencies of CFLs become more apparent with widespread use, perhaps Congress will let consumers decide,” Burnett said.

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