Light Bulbs Divided: An Upcoming House Battle by the Numbers

A bill to save incandescent bulbs is coming to Congress

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A bill to overturn a 2007 law that requires certain energy efficiency standards for light bulbs is due to hit the floor of the House of Representatives sometime next week. The legislation, sponsored by Republican Joe Barton, of Texas, is just the kind of issue that ruffles feathers on both sides. "The Republicans are trying to strip away a smart, industry-supported piece of environmental legislation that doesn't require drastic changes and was signed into law by George W. Bush," is the essential point of view of those who oppose it. "The government wants to control your life so minutely it's reaching into your home and telling you which lightbulbs you can and can't use, and besides, those flourescent lightbulbs have mercury in them and are hazardous to your health," goes the thinking of the bill's supporters. And at the heart of each argument are numbers. So many numbers. Let's take a look at the figures each side says add up to doom.

$12.5 billion: The amount of savings opponents of Barton's bill say consumers would reap from energy efficient lightbulbs by 2020 under the 2007 law.

30 percent: The amount by which lightbulb manufacturers would be required to increase the efficiency of incandescent bulbs by 2020, under the 2007 law.

$85: The annual savings per household expected once the 2007 standards are fully in place, a 7 percent reduction in power costs.

100 watts: The size of bulb that would, under the 2007 law, be phased out by next year. Other wattages would be phased out subsequently, but Barton's legislation would remove the phase-outs called for in the 2007 law.

6,000 gallons: The amount of water that Barton's office says could be contaminated by the mercury contained in one compact fluorescent bulb.

4 miligrams: The average amount of mercury contained in a CFL bulb, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

8 hours: The amount of time a person must be exposed to the mercury in a CFL bulb to acquire the same mercury level as eating a six-ounce can of tuna, according to Climate Progress's Stephen Lacey.

85 percent: The amount by which the lifespan of CFL bulbs is reduced by frequently turning them on and off, according to Barton.

1,000 to 2,000 hours: The life expectancy of a normal incandescent bulb.

25,000 hours: The life expectancy of a light emitting diode lamp, an alternative to both CFLs and incandescents.

33: The number of power plants that won't need to be built, because of the energy efficiency standards put in place by the 2007 bill, its supporters say.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.