Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Colbert Report Covers Light Bulb Debate but sadly Neglects LEDs

While recently watching an episode of The Colbert Report, I was surprised and pleased to see that his guest for the evening was Dale Bryk, director of Natural Resource Defense Council’s Air and Energy program, the topic being light bulbs. Specifically, Bryk was on the show to set right some misconceptions about the government’s 2007 lighting standard that required light bulbs become 25 percent more efficient. According to Bryk, “The reasoning for it was simple: our light bulbs waste 90% of their energy as heat and after 125 years on the market, it’s time for a re-tooling. Following in the footsteps of other efficiency standards that have made our refrigerators 90% more efficient and required our cars to get more miles per gallon, this lighting standard will put better bulbs on the shelves and cut our nation’s electric bill by $10 BILLION a year. It’ll also zero out the pollution from 30 coal-fired power plants.”

However, certain members of Congress claim that this new standard limits consumer choice and have thus proposed the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act” to reverse the standards.

Bryk refuted the claims while on the show, and on her blog, she states, “The irony, of course, is that [the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act”] would reduce choice, not increase it. Not to mention that reversing this standard would also derail plans for new job-creating lighting factories and take as much as $200 per year out of the checkbooks of every U.S. household.”

Colbert and Bryk also discussed the pros and cons of incandescent and CFL bulbs, and while thinking it was great to see the light bulb debate getting some national coverage, I was disappointed that LED lights were not even mentioned. Colbert complained heavily about CFL’s need to warm up, and the cold-colored light they cast. Bryk responded by saying that new CFLs come in “warm white,” and that post warm-up, they’re actually quite similar to incandescent bulbs. We can wonder why she didn’t bring up the fact that LEDs require no warm up time, come in a variety of colors, and last even longer than CFL bulbs. But maybe we’ll just have to get Colbert to give us our own segment to explain it.

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