Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Wal-Mart: Turning the lights off or on?


I was reading an article the other day about Wal-Marts efforts to increase sales of compact fluorescent light bulbs. I may have had too much time on my hands.

Wal-Mart wants to increase sales from about 3.5 million to 100 million bulbs. It was stated that the CEO wants to decrease energy use across the country. A laudable goal. Good for the environment and it will help the U.S. decrease it's dependency on fossil fuels.

That would send shock waves — some intended, others not — across the lighting industry. Because compact fluorescent bulbs last up to eight years, giant manufacturers, like General Electric and Osram Sylvania, would sell far fewer lights. Because the bulbs are made in Asia, some American manufacturing jobs could be lost. And because the bulbs contain mercury, there is a risk of pollution when millions of consumers throw them away.

Will GE or Sylvania look at this as an opportunity to innovate? Will their R&D departments figure out how to make better looking, cheaper compact fluorescent lights that fit in our lamps? Will the lamp makers make the fixtures bigger to accommodate newer, more efficient light bulbs? Can we make them without mercury? Are the leaders at these companies foreseeing the possible ramifications?

Interesting. Should we make a mass migration to more efficient lighting to save energy and reduce dependence on foreign oil or risk losing manufacturing jobs in order to stay with incandescent lighting that's been the norm for over 100 years?

I think I'm going to buy some for the garage and maybe the basement. One step at a time, I guess!


2 comments:

Average Joe said...

I have used fluorescent bulbs in many home applications for years. A problem I have found is that unless you leave them running constant, the normal on/off cycles kill the claimed long life advantage. Nor did I see any loss of savings by replacing the fluorescent bulbs not in heavy usage areas. Though I have replaced heavy usage lighting areas with the fluorescent lighting, I still run incandescent bulbs for the normal light usage areas.

Anonymous said...

you are a loser who has little or no leadership ability