Incandescent Bulbs - The Seen and the Unseen
During a large portion of the year, in a large portion of the world, I would argue that the incandescent bulb is 100% efficient. Provocative enough? Well it shouldn't be. If you're thinking that incandescent bulbs are generally reported to be 10-20% efficient, you are correct. But the energy that is wasted is simply heat put off by the bulb. Here in Pittsburgh there are only 4-5 months out of the year that I am not running the heat, at least intermittently. This means the heat put off by the bulb, even though it is quite small in magnitude, is helping me heat my house. So from my perspective, the bulb is 100% efficient during such time. I doubt this consideration has been included in the justification of the laws attempting to ban incandescent bulbs in favor of the "more efficient" compact florescents. This thinking is in line with the overly constrained and simplified engineering perspective that our great leaders so often take when attempting to run out lives. They will always fail to take into consideration all potential use cases - in this case they missed a pretty big one. It is relatively easy to come up with models and estimates for how much product X is going to save the average consumer Y. The difficulty comes in extrapolating those savings to the entire population. It is quite easy to imagine scenarios in which a CFL does not save John Q. Citizen any money or is more trouble than it is worth. But it doesn't matter. Our choice will be forcibly constrained so that model citizen Y may save a few bucks using his light bulbs in a particular way.