OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Being a dick about Earth Hour

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  • George Darroch,

    There are plenty of situations where the market doesn't work and the state steps in. It's not a lefty thing, it's an economics thing.

    Well, in highly partisan, or ideologically charged right-wing environments, market failure is something that you'll see Governments comfortable with. Or something that is denied altogether. Witness Gerry Brownlee.

    Otherwise, yes, consensus is that market failures should be prevented through legislation.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    I do wonder if Labour considered how many votes, and seats in the house it was worth to ban incandescent light bulbs?

    My beef is, how can we tolerate a media/political environment that is so toxic, and so completely off its nuts irrational, that the dumbest and craziest arguments can come from left field and sink these basic energy efficiency measures.

    I'm not saying that they should've died in a ditch over it. Just saying it's fucked up that they even had to, for something so simple and benign.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    Well, yes, but surely unless you plan on burying the wood it's part of the short-term carbon cycle anyway?

    Not if you didn't chop it down for firewood in the first place. 8-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    I get so sick of saying this to otherwise interventionist liberals. "They're idiots, don't believe what they're saying, you don't actually believe that!"

    If they're conservative and/or irrational, try the man-donkey-love erotica.

    If that doesn't work, try food safety and telecommunications standards. Technical standards really throw libertarians.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Um, I'm not sure if it's been mentioned here, but there wasn't a ban.
    There was a minimum energy performance standard (MEPS). Important difference.

    Good point George, it is a VERY important difference and I, for one, shouldn't have used the "ban" term.


    I think the dimmer thing is still an issue, and wonder if there are CFLs on the way that can be dimmed? Or is it an unavoidable part of their design?
    Given my chandelier is made of burnt and blackened wood the Mr Sparkerel argument doesn't really sway me (although I'm yet to find a candle-shaped CFL to fit)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart,

    Congratulations to James (and by extension Keith) for prompting me to register after several months of lurking....

    Also, local bodies have a long way to go to make CFL recycling (which contain mercury) more available to jo blow. Compared to glass, plastic and paper, you really have to work hard to know how to ditch the the things.

    Hear hear. Can anyone here tell me where I ought to be responsibly chucking the bloody things in Chch?

    To add to the anecdotal data points - I've had a few die after a year or so (mostly in the same socket come to think of it) and I have some that have faded to the point I ought to replace them. No explosions. Still maybe a handful of long-lived incandescents in the place - apathy holds out :)

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    Out of curiosity, did you see the Chandelier Defence coming?

    Nope, missed that one - we were focused on a market based approach, trying to deal with the failures in information and up front price. If someone didn't want to change then we were not going to worry, just try and get another million CFLs out into the market.

    We did do surveys into what people did with the bulbs ie replaced an incandescant, replaced a CFL, number of hours the bulb would be on, concerns over appearace etc etc. Basically happy with way everything went given that you are dealing with that most inconsistent of things, people

    was this public information at the time? I don't recall this being reported, since presumably, Brownlee would've been all over it, right?

    Basically David Parker wandered around our office one day (the only day he ever visited) and asked 'what about banning the incandescants?', we said no - a market based approach is better. A few months later EECA wanted some meetings on banning the bulb, we attended those and just kept on with our market based programs. No fuss, no muss, just doing the job.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm glad I read this thread. I also have one of those sockets that seems to blow the efficient bulbs up, in my office. Really fast - like it only takes seconds. I thought it was faulty, but reading here has prompted me to just try a low wattage incandescent in there. It works fine. Curiously, from months of putting up with working in the dark, I've got used to it, so we'll see tonight whether I actually turn it off out of preference.

    Which leads me to totally oppose the idea of banning the incandescents. They have their place. The economics of the saver-bulbs is plenty argument enough for their winning out in terms of overall lighting. If the economics are not compelling, then .... the whole idea is not compelling. But I'm not coming from a greenie angle. Indeed, not coming from a greenie angle is probably why they work.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Hear hear. Can anyone here tell me where I ought to be responsibly chucking the bloody things in Chch?

    Company called Interwaste offers a recycling service - you pay $12 for a courier box that will hold 12 bulbs. Once you've filled it you seal it and drop it at the Post Office. They then properly recycle them.
    https://www.zeus-sport.com/Interwaste/Shop/Product.aspx?ID=19&InterfaceID=574

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    Not suggesting that people shouldn't properly dispose of their dead CFLs (the LFLs in schools, offices, garages etc etc etc) but was interesting to work out that a CFL effectively reduces the amount of mercury released into the environment because of the savings in coal fired generation...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Can anyone explain this concept I read on the energywise website where they recommend exchanging a 100W incandescent with a 20W CFL?
    Does this change in wattage give essentially the same lux? (And therefore are they claiming that for any given light-level the CFLs are 5 times as efficient?)

    Do they make the CFLs in teh smaller size for those 'candle-stylee' bulbs that we have used in our low-profile sconces?

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    Here is Oz they had a great program where the energy companies would come round and swap all your light bulbs over, and give you a low-flow shower head. Unfortunately the nice Mr Rudd killed that program in favour of... well, nothing in particular really.

    We've got chandeliers everywhere in this house and could install a total of 70-odd mini-bayonet bulbs if we were completely batshit insane. Instead we have two or three per chandelier and that's ample, because we can only get 4W bulbs that fit them and you really, really do not want to be in a room that has 16 of those in each of two chandeliers. It would not just cure SAD, you'd probably require sunblock.

    Energy and water efficiency is so easy I'm offended every time certain bags of ugly open their mouths. In Melbun we have "target 155" for water - 155 litres per day per person. On world water day (Saturday?) there was a "Target 30" for the day, which we managed even though apparently half the household didn't know we were doing it. So now our house is on target 30 for the rest of the year. 5-7 people in a share house... but we have rainwater tanks and rain, so we use rainwater for toilets, washing machine and garden when we don't have enough shower greywater for that (most of the time). It's not hard to get below 50l/day/person once you have a low-flow shower head and a decent washing machine.

    Electricity is similar, most of ours goes into the fridge and computers, so we have a chest fridge ($99 conversion from freezer) that uses ~20% as much electricity as an upright fridge (I was shocked too, and had to measure it). We also have mostly laptops and a combined modem/router/switch/VOIP box that only draws ~10W, plus a shared media drive that's another 15W but is turned off most of the time. If only it actually did torrents properly like the box says (but the torrent client is rubbish) we could use that instead of the laptop.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1229 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    Yes, the whole efficiency thing means the same light output for lower wattage, because lightbulbs are measured by input not output. Which is dumb, but there you are. CFL's warm up over a minute or two so they seem dim when you first turn them on.

    The lowest-power ones we could find are 4 watts. So in a fitting that takes multiple bulbs you will probably only want to half fill it, or even less. Try it. IMO they actually look better than the incandescent ones, because they match the white colour of the fitting better. We got "warm" bulbs which give a more orange light, not as orange as an incandescent but very orange compared to the other CFL bulbs we have.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1229 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    In my experience, CFLs certainly give off a wad-load more light than incando ones.

    I've also noticed that the older they get, the longer they take to warm up to full light, and also, the lower their light output when they first go on.

    I think there's more mercury in my fillings - and definitely in my cell phone - than in all the CFLs in my hose put together. Or something like that.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    Can anyone explain this concept I read on the energywise website where they recommend exchanging a 100W incandescent with a 20W CFL?
    Does this change in wattage give essentially the same lux? (And therefore are they claiming that for any given light-level the CFLs are 5 times as efficient?)

    Yes, a 20W CFL produces the same lumens as an incandescant (actually produces more at the beginning of its life). The reason is that an incandescant used 95% of the electricity to make heat, while the remaining 5% is light. CFLs are much cooler and can produce the same light output with less input energy. Note that if you get one of the CFLs that look like a normal light bulb (the spiral is inside a shell) the light output will be less and a 20W is probably equivalent to a 75W incandescant.

    Do they make the CFLs in teh smaller size for those 'candle-stylee' bulbs that we have used in our low-profile sconces?

    Yes, the range is starting to expand - go the markets!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    Oh yeah, someone mentioned this other aspect to Earth hour, which was that it can show how much power can be saved if lots of people turn their lights off for an hour.

    Hmmm. Considering Keith's calculations, I think this argument is probably scoring an own goal.

    Maybe what's of more use is that lots of (National voting, plasma TV watching, 4x4 driving) people in my office are now talking excitedly about Earth hour. At least it raises awareness.

    I mean, does anyone actually buy incando bulbs who doesn't need to anymore?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Thanks for all the advice, Andrew.

    Conscience pricked, I will adjust the 'inner Scotsman' and go & buy some CFLs to replace our non-dimmered standard incandescents. And see if I can get candle ones, too.

    (I, for one, will be at a friend's place during earth hour so I best remember to tell the dogs not to turn the lights on while we are out.)

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    Our political environment is so toxic to rational debate that the simplest, cheapest, easiest measures can get defeated by dimmer switches and pseudo-liberalism.

    I prostrate myself before your magnificence.

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    PS. We're a fully CFL house. I just hate giving money to the governments (SOE's) :) I buy about 1 lamp a year.

    I was talking to my Dad at the weekend (in the UK).

    "That bloody funny light bulb you put in. They're crap - the thing packed in the other day."

    "Dad, I bought that when I lived at home after school - that means it was at least 18 years old and you've moved it through 3 houses".

    "Yeah, but they cost about fourteen quid don't they? Should last forever"

    <sigh>

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    My bad. I read 65,700kWh

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    I think the dimmer thing is still an issue, and wonder if there are CFLs on the way that can be dimmed?

    Yes.

    Given my chandelier is made of burnt and blackened wood the Mr Sparkerel argument doesn't really sway me (although I'm yet to find a candle-shaped CFL to fit)

    Here.

    I just wish that larger CFL bulbs (i.e. >20 watts = >100 watt equivalent incandescent) were more generally available.

    Also yes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • JohnS,

    I pencil the date on the base of every new CFL I install.

    So far I haven't had to replace one under 6 years old.

    Have only one "cool white" which I use for illumination in front of the computer when using Skype for video calling. "Warm white" makes my camera images too red/orange.

    Could one of the experts on this thread tell me if dimming tungsten bulbs actually reduces the power they use (by clipping the sine wave)?

    Greenlane, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    Can anyone explain this concept I read on the energywise website where they recommend exchanging a 100W incandescent with a 20W CFL? Does this change in wattage give essentially the same lux? (And therefore are they claiming that for any given light-level the CFLs are 5 times as efficient?)

    (I know Andrew has already answer this, but, to summarise...)

    YES!!! And ain't that awesome?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    I notice on Electrical direct they also have even-lower wattage LED replacements for the halogen downlights (I need some replacements for the small kind).

    Plus they come in two whites, red, green and blue. I can make my kitchen like a disco floor.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    if dimming tungsten bulbs actually reduces the power they use (by clipping the sine wave)?

    Yes. The mean current and voltage applied is reduced, and hence the power. (Diagrams would help here). The only loss factor is the power dissipated in the triac (electronic switch) - which should be small (otherwise smoke would come from your dimmer).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

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