bulb wars

Bulb wars…as in light bulb wars, for the uninformed.

Mike and I spent another grueling afternoon trying to find the perfect compromise between my beloved incandescent bulb (bane of the “green” community) and his more environmental (and energy conscious) choice, the dreaded compact fluorescent swirly bulbs.

Now, we were not discussing the merits of using said bulb in a table lamp, camouflaged under a pretty linen shade.  No, we were contemplating the ramifications of changing out all of the bulbs in the recessed cans in both the kitchen and the living room.  This is a huge decision that will very likely have long lasting, deeply felt consequences that only I will care about. 

Mike doesn’t care about the esthetics of the light bulb.  He only cares about the dollars and cents…possibly the environmental impact.  Compact fluorescent bulbs last years longer than incandescent bulbs and use significantly less electricity compared to the incandescent.  He was excited to discover that the combined wattage of thirteen compact fluorescent bulbs was just over the wattage of one of the existing bulbs in the recessed cans.  This would drastically reduce the energy usage in the kitchen alone.  He had not even calculated the savings in the living room yet.   

But the entire time he was calculating the savings in our electric bill, I was imagining the strange shadows and unnatural colors the new lights would give off.

He may be consumed by the energy costs, but I care about the warmth of the light.  I care about the different levels of brightness in a room.  Ultimately, I care about how the light makes me feel.  And fluorescent lights make me feel uncomfortable. 

Are you feeling the enormity of this decision yet?

When it comes right down to it, I could hardly argue the fact that the simple task of changing out a bunch of light bulbs would amount to a huge savings over the course of a year.  But if I was going to compromise my emotional response to the light, I was at least going to take the time to find the compact fluorescent that comes the closest to resembling the warm, flattering glow of the soon to be outlawed incandescent light bulb. 

In the spirit of compromise, I agreed to an experiment.  We would try several different compact fluorescents in between two regular incandescent bulbs.   Mike claims that there isn’t a noticeable difference between the two bulbs—obviously I disagree—so he was less than happy when I vetoed every bulb he put into the socket. 

One was too bright, another too dim.  One cast horrible green shadows on the cabinets, another cast an icy blue tone.  The more I continued to point out the warm, happy glow coming from the old bulbs, the more exasperated he became. 

I was trying desperately to explain to him what I was looking for, without much luck.  Finally I dragged him into the living room where I had used a fluorescent bulb two weeks ago when I didn’t have an incandescent to replace a blown bulb.  This was one I could live with.  Why couldn’t we just find a bulb like this one?

It was one of those eureka moments.  I could actually see the proverbial “light bulb” over my husband’s head as it dawned on him that the solution was as easy as finding a bulb with a lower wattage and a smaller profile.  Our enormous problem was solved.

Off to Wal-Mart we went.

After filling our cart with every remaining compact fluorescent bulb of the size we needed, we were on our way home to screw them all in.  I would end with a joke about how many conservationists does it take to screw in a compact fluorescent bulb, but I don’t know any. 

I can’t honestly say I like the new bulbs, but I can live with them.  That’s what compromise is about I guess.  Although I don’t know where the compromise was on his end…he got what he wanted this time.  Next time it’s my turn…did I mention I’m looking for a new sofa?

Until the next time…I might just be wearing my sunglasses at night!

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Posted on February 6, 2011 .