Incandescent, CFL, & LED bulbs: Pros & Cons

OK.  I’ve just heard of a new federal mandate that would effectively prohibit the sale of the incandescent light bulb, long a staple of many households.  I’m all for finding a way to fulfill my current lighting requirements with less energy consumption but I’d rather take a logical approach to the problem than follow a mandate that does not take such an analysis into consideration.  Setting aside the fact that this represents yet another intrusion of government into the internal affairs of the individual, a pro-con analysis needs to be done.  Let’s start with the pros and cons of the incandescent bulb:

The pros:

They’re cheap and their efficiency increases with higher wattage consumption.

The cons:

These wattage consumptions are more than many of us are comfortable with given the increasing energy costs.

Which brings me to the CFL bulb:

The pros:

They’re much more efficient than incandescents and they’ve come to be nearly as cheap as incandescents.

The cons:

They contain unsafe levels of mercury.  This results in some hidden costs besides the obvious risk to the environment and our health should the mercury contained in these bulbs leak into the environment.  Because of this if you break a CFL bulb you can’t just sweep up the debris and toss it.  You have to call in an environmental cleaning crew (who will be wearing HAZMAT suits) and that will likely cost a good couple of thousand bucks.  The waste management services of most localities also implement special procedures for dealing with CFL bulb waste, procedures that cost money to implement.  This results in a higher local property tax bill for everyone.

Which brings me now to the LED bulb:

The pros:

They’re much more efficient, more efficient than even CFL’s (at least at lower wattage equivalencies such as the 60-watt equivalency).  They also contain no mercury, eliminating that risk to our health and the environment.  They also last much longer than either incandescents or CFL’s.

The cons:

They cost plenty to buy.  The average LED bulb costs roughly $40 – $50 for a 60-watt equivalent LED bulb.  Their efficiency also drops with higher wattage consumption.  For example: LED’s are more efficient than CFL’s at the 60-watt equivalency but at the 100-watt equivalency, from what I read, an LED bulb would have to consume at least 30 watts of power, giving the CFL the advantage in energy efficiency in this higher wattage equivalency (CFL can produce 100-watt equivalent light consuming only 26 watts of power).  Also a 100-watt equiv. LED would be roughly several times the size of a standard bulb and probably cost roughly $100 – $200!  (eek!)  But it would still make the LED much more efficient than incandescent bulbs.

But despite the cons, if you can afford these initial one-time costs for the LED bulbs, the energy cost savings could possibly offset the cost of the bulbs.  The tricky part is actually coming up with the money for these LED bulbs, especially in this tough economy (unless of course Bill Gates is feeling generous enough to replace every light fixture in the US with an LED bulb, but I’m not holding my breath  :-P).

Charity vs. Altruism

Recently I have discovered additional insight as to why many Catholics, even those who are otherwise pretty conservative, support things like government welfare, including this health care mess. It has to do with the difference between charity and altruism.

Charity, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, is a free will gift of one’s own time, talent, and/or treasure to assist those who are less fortunate than we are. In Catholicism there is the principle of subsidiarity which “is opposed to all forms of collectivism.” Private non-profits (the higher-order entity) adhere to this principle by not forcing us (the lower-order entity) to give to them. In this was we still retain a sense of self when helping others.

Altruism, on the other hand, while it has in common with chaity concern for others as part of its definition, is vastly different from charity. This method of helping others violates the principle of subsidiarity. Altruism is defined as completely selfless concern for the welfare of others. Going from that definition the implication is clear. When altruism is placed in practice it means that to help others you must surrender your sense of self. And by surrendering your sense of self it opens you up to being reduced from a human being with civil liberties to a mere source of resources for the sole use of others. And once reduced to such a state one becomes no more than a slave to the class altruists seek to help and thus this leads to the very collectivism that the principle of subsidiarity so opposes. In fact it is altruism that has served as the moral basis for collectivism and slavery (which is really a form of collectivism anyway).  As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “”The inversion of means and ends, which results in giving the value of ultimate end to what is only a means for attaining it, or in viewing persons as mere means to that end, engenders unjust structures which ‘make Christian conduct in keeping with the commandments of the divine Law-giver difficult and almost impossible.'”

So to sum it up:

Charity is the self-ISH concern for the welfare of those who are less fortunate. This is another way collectivists seek to justify their view, by using the fact that we have forgotten that there are 2 different meanings for the term “selfish.” One meaning is the negative one, where being selfish means you exploit others for your own personal gain (the other meaning that you simply have a sense of yourself as a human being with dignity and natural rights). This leads me to altruism. Altruism is the opposite. It is self-LESS concern for others. But as we have seen, help for others without a sense of yourself (which is what self-LESS means) conforms more to the “exploit one group for the sake of another” meaning of “selfish.” In this way when altruism is allowed to take hold as a valid part of any economic system, slavery results. One group is effectively yoked to another in one collective. Kinda like those Borg drones in Star trek: TNG eh?

So while charity and altruism may at first glance appear to be synonyms, we see that they are in fact polar opposites. And since collectivism is slavery, and slavery condemned by the teachings of the Catholic Church, government welfare (including ObamaCare) even without provisions that include funding for things like abortions, is still a policy that conflicts with Church teaching.