Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Change a Lightbulb" in Columbia Heights this Friday

The District is sponsoring a "light bulb exchange" at the rather inconvenient time of 2 PM this Friday. What is this, you ask?

It seems to be part of the District's efforts to do their part to reduce global warming (and save DC residents a few bucks on their electricity bills) by allowing residents to exchange an incandescent light bulb for a compact flourescent. Under the thinking of "every little bit helps" the 14thandYous support this idea. Under the thinking of "what were they thinking?" we wonder how many people will be able to take time off during a workday to head up to Columbia heights and exchange a light bulb?

Our guess: not many. If you're interested, the details are below.

The District Government wants to help you change a light bulb! Join the District Department of the Environment, the Department of Public Works and the Office of Planning for a FREE light bulb exchange.

Bring an old incandescent light bulb, and we will exchange it for a new, energy-efficient compact fluorescent. You'll save money on your electric bill and help the District meet its goals for reducing global warming.

Free Light Bulb Exchange (limit one per resident)

Friday, December 12, 2:00 p.m.

Columbia Heights Civic Plaza (14th Street, Kenyon Street and Park Road, NW)

The light bulb exchange is part of Local Climate Action Week. For more information on climate change, visit


Jamie said...

I agree. The whole idea is retarded. Besides, CFLs only cost about 2 bucks now anyway. Why don't they just mail everyone a CFL if they really care?

The gas wasted getting there and back for one measly lightbulb probably immediately offsets the carbon savings from said lightbulb.

IMGoph said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jamie said...

I maintain this is a highly ineffective method of achieving a goal of lowering energy consumption. This is a resume builder and nothing more.

I suppose that there's no point in debating the question of how many people will come to this event, since we can just read about it later, but I'd be shocked if they gave away even 1,000 light bulbs. Remember, there's a limit of one per household.

If you want to bike over there, then more power to you. But at the end of the day, this is a giveaway amounting to about 2 bucks. If you heard that someone was handing out 2 dollar bills, would you really go farther than to the end of the block -- and possibly wait in line -- to get one? Is your time really worth so little?

Sorry. I'm just not seeing it.

tom veil said...


Thank you for explaining why Jamie is not allowed to call this idea retarded. Now, please let me know if I've offended any interest groups by calling this idea stupid, wasteful, and sensationalistic. This is like solving DC's homeless problem by letting everyone come over to your house for a half-hour.

EdTheRed said...

Saving energy is nice and all, but those CFLs contain mercury, and, well, I don't think I've seen any environmental impact studies regarding what will happen when the whole country switches from incandescent bulbs. Not to mention the rather insane hazardous material cleanup instructions should you break a CFL.

More importantly, the ones in my house, well, suck. The spectrum of light provided is just I only have them in places where I neither read nor cook (like closets and the laundry area).

Jamie said...

The mercury problem is far overblown and very misunderstood as a result of spin from luddites and/or oil companies who don't know what they are talking about. More mercury is released into the environment in the production of an incandescent bulb, than is contained in a CFL. Google it.

The light quality issue is also a thing of the past. What is not well understood is that CFLs come in different colors (from 2600K to 6500K) with lower color temperatures being softer and much like incandescent light bulbs and higher colors being cooler and more like old school tube CLFs. Very few people know this (which is perfectly reasonable, we've never really had a choice before) but even if you do know what to look for, in many situations, CFLS don't even tell you what color temperature they emit. This is something that's getting better as far as labeling goes, with the bulbs that are more like incandescent bulbs being described as "warm " or "soft" which is generally a low color temp. But if you just make sure to buy bulbs at the lower end of the spectrum you will get very good light quality.

I am all in favor of CFLs in case you didn't get that. However I think the goal of lowering energy consumption is retarded by this program (def, A slowing down or hindering of progress; a delay) because it is an extremely inefficient way to distribute light bulbs; the administrative overhead is probably very high compared with the results; and the real problem with adoption of CFLs isn't the price or availability, it's a lot of people (like EdTheRed) don't want to use them because they think they still suck like they did 10 years ago.

Educational efforts would do a lot more to increase adoption.

14th & You said...

On behalf of IMGoph:

Who says this is going to lead to any use of gasoline? they are doing this in the most densely populated area of the city, and i'm sure many, many people will walk to this event, or ride a bus, or ride the metro. yeah, driving there would be a bad decision, but that's on you to make sure you're not making the bad decision. i, personally, might bike up to this if the weather isn't too bad. i could use a free bulb and the exercise.

[Added by 14th & You]: IMGoph also points out that he considers use of the word retarded - in the sense that Jamie employed it above - offensive.

Brandon said...

It's almost as if they scheduled it a time when people can't make it just to say they held the event.