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Which Type of Light Bulb is Better for the Environment?

The era of conventional light bulbs, also known as incandescent light bulbs, is about to run out soon. This is because laws are being passed throughout the world to ban these types of light bulbs for more efficient light bulbs.

For instance, the new compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use significantly less electricity when used. This is mainly because CFLs produce a lot less heat compared to incandescent light bulbs, and the generation of heat is basically the loss of energy. Even though CFLs are more expensive than incandescent light bulbs, if it believed that CFLs are more cost effective when factoring in their longer life spans and lower energy consumption. If this is true, then there is no need to ban the traditional incandescent light bulbs; because the free market will automatically obsolete the least cost effective type of light bulb.

The only problem with CFLs is that they contain an extremely toxic substance called mercury. If a single CFL breaks, then it could be very costly to clean up. For instance, a carpet or rug would need to be thrown away and that could cost thousands of dollars, however using a disposable wet rag is all that is necessary to clean mercury off of tile or cement. Furthermore, because CFLs contain mercury, they are not allowed to be thrown away with the regular trash in most places in the world, and proper disposal for CFLs is not well known or available everywhere. As a result, CFLs should not be considered environmentally friendly, even though they use less electricity. In fact, a lot of scientists and environmentalists are against CFLs, at least until CFLs are created without extremely toxic materials such as mercury.

The third and least popular type of light bulbs are light emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs supposedly use less electricity than CFLs and incandescent light bulbs; however LEDs are currently much more expensive and harder to find. LEDs also have the added benefit of containing no toxic substances. Furthermore, LEDs supposedly last significantly longer than CFLs and incandescent light bulbs too. Hopefully with further scientific advances and larger scales of mass production, the price of LEDs will become competitive.

Therefore, LEDs are the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly light bulbs. As a result, politicians should stop trying to ban the old traditional light bulbs but instead help decrease the costs of LEDs.

Though not available for light bulbs, another friend to the environment is photoluminescent lighting. It absorbs and re-radiates photons, and is most commonly used for exit signs in office buildings. It is a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to the traditional forms of lighting used for emergency signage.

by Phil for Humanity
on 20080114

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