Wednesday, March 14, 2007

[Insert lightbulb joke here]

There are proposals in Madison and elsewhere to replace traditional incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent ones, which last longer and use less energy. That's all well and good, I suppose, but if any of these mandated bulbs are to be used outside, policy makers should know that the new fluorescents may not be suited to the brutal winters of the upper Midwest.

When Ereck and I attended a home-buying workshop the county sponsored last summer, we received swag bags that contained, among other things, a great many compact fluorescent lightbulbs made by the manufacturer Link USA. We have used them with generally good results, except on the front porch: During periods of bitter cold this winter, the bulb we installed in the porch-light fixture didn't work. But it perked right back up during mild times, mild being a relative term when it comes to Wisconsin winters. I do notice that the box says "Minimum starting temperature: -18°C," whatever that means.

Shouldn't a lightbulb just work? Let the lightbulb buyer beware.

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