Reinventing the lightbulb
Like many people, I’m a wee bit sceptical about the forthcoming ban on the old incandescent lightbulb, and the switch to CFLs.
Call me old fashioned, but CFLs contain toxic mercury (albeit in small amounts, but here are the EPA guidelines on handling a broken CFL), and it seems to me we would simply be swopping one problem for another. CFLs are also more complex to manufacture, and therefore start with a bigger eco-footprint than a conventional bulb.
Plus, improved LEDs (already in use for traffic lights and bicycle lamps) will soon be ready for domestic use, and could be a better option energy-wise than CFLs.
(I’m also posting this from deepest Canada, where calculations suggest that, in winter, switching from the warmer conventional bulb to a cooler CFL, will just mean people have to use more heating, and negate any energy savings from the lighting.)
So I was intrigued to read about a completely new energy-efficient lighting technology, invented by a Seattle company, Vu1 (‘view one’), that uses ‘stimulated electrons’ and which, they claim, contains no toxic or hazardous material, and is fully dimmable.
The company has just agreed a manufacturing arrangement, and could be on the market shortly, giving us yet another alternative lighting technology to choose from.
Since different rooms and tasks have different lighting needs, it may be that we need a variety of technologies — CFLs for rooms that are lit for long periods, for instance, and LEDs for rooms such as toilets that need to be lit only for a few minutes, and perhaps Vu1 bulbs for task lighting and ambience.
(c) Mary Mulvihill 2009