Alternatives to go green
Letter to the Editor | Monday, December 1, 2008
While GreeND’s campaign to lower energy use and cost by handing out fluorescent lights are admirable, I feel that it’s important to note that there are alternatives to fluorescent lighting that also save energy and don’t have all of the negative aspects of fluorescent bulbs.
First of all, many people forget or ignore the fact that fluorescent lighting simply isn’t a feasible alternative for some people and locations. Because fluorescent lights don’t work properly in very cold temperatures, they don’t work well as outdoor lighting in certain parts of the country. Other problems with fluorescent lights include the mercury inside them, which is released if they are accidentally broken, and is released into the ground and water when they are thrown in the garbage. Other negative effects of fluorescent lighting occurs at a more personal level. In the workplace and in schools, studies have shown that fluorescent lighting increases irritability, blood pressure, and misbehavior among children. Many individuals with conditions that can cause photosensitivity, such as epilepsy and lupus, experience health problems due to fluorescent lighting. Many people also experience severe headaches and eye strain due to fluorescent light bulbs.
It’s certainly true that fluorescent lighting is the most energy efficient option, but its unpleasant light (even among “warm” CFLs, many people consider the light unflattering and unpleasant) and the immediate health ramifications led me to search for other options. Although they give off a lot of heat, some halogen lights are far more efficient than other incandescent bulbs without the hideous light and mercury of its fluorescent counterparts. Philips has released a line of natural-light bulbs called EcoVantage that save 25 percent on energy. As LED technology improves, it may prove to be a viable alternative for accent lighting.
I fully agree with GreeND’s desire to save energy, but I believe it’s important to do so without introducing highly unpleasant and even dangerous light. What I believe is most important, however, is ensuring that we don’t force fluorescent light bulbs on people who don’t want to fill their homes with limited-spectrum light that may cause them headaches or health problems. As I said, I fully support GreeND’s desire to save the Earth through energy conservation, but we should also explore other options that are more pleasant and healthy, and ensure that if consumers want to pay the higher energy bills to continue using full-spectrum, warm, pleasant incandescent lighting, they are free to do so.