For Palo Alto, it's the watts that count | April 16, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - April 16, 2010

For Palo Alto, it's the watts that count

City focuses on energy efficiency to save costs, environment

by Gennady Sheyner

Last week, when Palo Alto utilities officials offered residents $8 dimmable, energy-efficient light bulbs — normally priced at $38 — they had no idea they'd unleash an L.E.D. craze.

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Posted by Stephen Rock
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 16, 2010 at 10:23 pm

The article on 4/16/10 "For Palo Alto, its the watts that count" contains some errors. The author should know that kilowatts is a unit of power, not a unit of energy. Thus the phrase "an old refrigerator uses 1,500 kilowatts per year" has no meaning. Perhaps the author meant kilowatt-hours (a unit of energy) per year. If that is the case and with a cost in Palo Alto of about $0.10/kilowatt-hour, the old refrigerator would cost about $150/year to use, while the new one,
using 400 kilowatt-hours, would cost about $40/yr, a difference of about $110/year. This is in the range of $48 to $180 year quoted by the author.
The article refers to "old" and "new" refrigerator, but does not define how old is "old". Is my 15 year old refrigerator "old"?
I use about 2100 kW-hrs/year total. If my refrigerator used 1500 of these, that would leave very little for lighting, cooking, audio, dishwasher, washing machine, dryer motor, computing, etc.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

See my erlier comment, where folk buy improvements with their energy savings.

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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm

$38 for a light bulb? Is someone crazy?

I am all for LED lightbulbs, or whatever the newest cleanest most efficient illumination is ... but $38 is insane.

Investing so much in a lightbulb does not make sense practically even if in the perfect case it makes sense economically or environmentally. What happens if it breaks, or is defective? They say these things have a very long lifetime, but when I walk through the aisles at Fry's I always see some of the LEDs burned out on their demo lamps.

And how bright are these $38 light bulbs. To get a reasonable amount of light I already have to load my fixtures with 2 of the compact fluorescents.

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Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 20, 2010 at 6:07 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

Anon make a good point. What about early failures. All those "savings" numbers go out the window. Warranty claims require returning the Defective lamp. More $$ for postage.
My house has almost 90% CFL/Fluorescent usage.
1 out of 10 bulbs are DOA when placed into service from spares (store return expired). another 1 out of 10 fails in the first year. The rest live up to expected life 10,000 hrs (I write the date installed with a sharpie).
I bought a 3 pk of LED Nite lights at Walgreens. Within 3 months, 1 failed. Within 1 year, another failed The last one has been in service 3 years.
Worried about LED failures, Look at the Red and Green Stop lights at corners. See the missing "bits".
Failures (common, after a year). Some just have an annoying flicker".

I like the Pharox lumens output. The color is a little cool. The Novicomm is just ugly and has a bunch of stated use limitations (Hours per day, non-enclosed fixture).

$38 is just to much with these issues.
Now, if they were $10. I will start replacing existing CFL as they fail.

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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 22, 2010 at 11:49 pm

>> Now, if they were $10. I will start replacing existing CFL as they fail.

For me it is mostly about brightness. Color is even secondary to me, I want to be able to see if I need to. To read or clean or find something small that fell into the carpeting ... whatever.

A lot of these CF bulbs fail, and some break releasing mercury and phosphorus. Again ... I have to use 2 high output CF bulbs to replace two moderate output incandescent. Of course the heat is another issue, and the Cf help in that regard by not being as hot.

What is in the LED bulbs and how hot do they get? How bright are they? I would be curious to try them ... but not at $38.

It seems that the first thing any green product tries to do is to get the rich or foolish to pay way more than they will save for the privilege of being able to be green before others.

We should be doing more to subsidize these bulbs, and we ought to ask companies to be producing them at a reasonable cost, but not if they do not work well yet.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.