As you’ve probably read, several of our lawmakers recently decided that the 2007 law requiring light bulbs to be more energy efficient by 2012 was a “violation of consumer freedom.” Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and the attempt to repeal this law was thwarted. Shockingly, though, 193 Representatives voted FOR repealing the law, stating with their vote that they think it’s a good idea for us all to continue using inefficient, 100-year old technology to light up our lives.
So this blog post is intended for those folks. The rest of you can feel free to read along.
We’re all well aware we have an efficiency problem in this country. We’ve seen the trend graphs — despite efficiency improvements we’re on track to increase our consumption of electricity at a clip of about 1% per year. There has long been concern that we may not have enough generation capacity to keep up with that demand. Hence why the utility industry is spending billions, with a “b”, on energy efficiency rebate programs — to try to get Americans to buy more energy efficient products and dial down their consumption.
There’s just one little problem: a wildly incorrect consumer perception. Our most recent Energy Pulse study revealed that 72% of the American population believes they’re not using more electricity today than they were five years ago (which is wrong), half of our population thinks their homes are already energy efficient (again, not true) and, while we’re on the subject of lighting, 77% of the American population claim they’ve replaced MOST of their incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (in reality, the DOE says about 13% of the sockets in America have been filled with CFL’s). Thus, consumers are not highly motivated to get on the efficiency train and buy the better products on their own — they simply don’t see the problem. And they don’t see the problem after billions of dollars have been thrown at them in the form of rebates and mass-media education.
Now, I could go down the path here that much of that education has not been handled in a way we know to be effective, but you can refer to my many other blog posts on that topic. My point here is that creating a more efficient nation will require a combination of education and legislation. We must count on our lawmakers to take away some of the “bad” choices. We know traditional incandescents are horrifically inefficient and the only folks who want to pretend like they’re still a viable option are the companies who make billions of dollars selling them. Given the advances in LED technology and their wide availability now, traditional incandescents are simply not a necessity. Allowing them to stay on the market in their current energy-sucking form is a silly waste of energy that puts America on a backwards path for energy independence.
So please, Representatives, help Americans help themselves. Keep legislating us away from the inefficient options and help us all get on the path to a more energy efficient way of life.