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The Right Way: the Wrong Way: and the Army Way

Question: How many GIs does it take to screw in a CFL?
Answer: None. We have to use all the old incandescent bulbs first. 

The US Army just issued a press release stating that they will be replacing all incandescent bulbs with energy efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps. This applies to all bulbs under 100 Watts. This is a significant development and will save US taxpayers millions of dollars each year in reduced electricity expense. Please see The U.S. Army vs CFLs.

This is a positive step for the Army. Unfortunately, there are serious missteps in the process of CFL installation. The press release reads.. "In order to capture energy efficient savings consistent with these provisions, the new policy requires use of the light bulbs as soon as possible. When installed bulbs fail and existing inventory is depleted, only efficient bulbs will be purchased." This replacement strategy for incandescent bulbs is seriously flawed with regard to economics, the environment and national security. I've gone through the economics several times. If you assume the Army pays for electricity like the rest of us, the most economically-efficient thing to do is to immediately screw in a new CFL and discard the incandescent bulb whether it is working or not. Even if you installed a new incandescent bulb this morning, if you receive a CFL this afternoon, it makes sense to unscrew the incandescent bulb and throw it out. And if you think throwing out a working incandescent bulb is going to be hard for the Army to accommodate, try convincing them that it makes economic sense to throw out the existing inventory of incandescent bulbs. The most cost-effective home for a working incandescent bulb is the trash can. Just run the numbers and you'll see.

The Army has an opportunity to illustrate to the American public that it makes economic sense to discard incandescent bulbs immediately, whether they are working or not, and replace them with CFLs. They need to change their policy and get the positive word out. In the press release there is a contact name and email address. If you think a change is warranted, and there is benefit to the American public in learning improved methods for saving money and protecting the environment, contact Dave Foster, Army Public Affairs, (703) 697-5344, or dave.foster1@us.army.mil

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