Editorial Comment ///

A bright idea? About 20 years ago, I became aware of high-efficiency lighting devices. We were still in the shadow of the Great Oil Embargo and the resulting glory days of oil prices and drilling. I was hearing about the substantial impact that these devices would have on energy use and, more important, how it would save me money and effort. At that time, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) cost about $28 for a 75-watt light bulb for residential use. It was supposed to save me $15 over the life of the device, which was eight times that of a common incandescent bulb. The savings came from decreased electricity use, but the trade-off was the increased up-front cost. However, those savings shrank considerably if I pretended to amortize the extra cost of the bulb and weigh that against an investment in a CD at prevailing interest rates. Undaunted, I bought one bulb, only to return it because it would not fit in any fixture in my house.

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