Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Energy & Carbon Reductions on the Cheap

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not a tree-hugger by any stretch of the imagination. However, I do believe that we, as a country, waste tons of energy; and, consequently, tons of money. That's obvious from the fact that 25% of the entire world's oil production fuels our needs.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have proposed billions of dollars for green-collar jobs. But, these are massive pie-in-sky programs that may or may not pan out. Much of their "stump speech ideas" involve technologies like wind and solar that have an upward battle in terms of high cost and efficiency; and, in in terms of court battles with the environmentalists.

To me, a simpler solution is already at hand. It involves the lowly, incandescent light bulb. There are over 300 million people in this country of ours. And, every night, most of us have two or more incandescent lights bulbs turned on in our homes, our businesses, and in hotel/motel rooms to satisfy our needs. Often, we have lights on in rooms we aren't even occupying. And, more often than not, those light bulbs are the traditional, energy wasting incandescent light bulb.

An alternative is the Compact Fluorescent Light bulb or CFL. It uses one-fifth to one-sixth of the energy of a standard incandescent light bulb while putting out the same amount of light. However, the downside is the cost of a CFL. One CFL bulb will cost more than 5 times the cost of a standard light bulb. That is what prevents it from widespread use, especially for the low income families in America. Even the middle class avoid them because of the up-front cost; although the long term cost savings would be significant.

For less than a billion dollars a year, our Federal government could implement a coupon program whereby every family in the United States could obtain, free of charge, two CFL bulbs per year. Businesses could also be afforded these coupons. At the end of 10 years, such a program will have replaced most of the high usage incandescent bulbs in this country. In doing so, it would break down the cost barrier that has prevented the CFL's widespread use to date. The energy reduction would be significant and we would still have spent less than any of the programs proposed by the current Presidential candidates. Just my opinion.

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