Although oil lamps were quite dim, we were fortunate to have a much-improved Aladdin lamp which incorporated a mantle mounted above the kerosene flame, much like classic Coleman camping lantern. The flame heated the mantle to incandescence and produced a much brighter and whiter light that was supposedly equivalent to a 60-watt light bulb.
With sharply escalating energy prices beginning in the 1970s, folks began to look for more efficient means of lighting their homes. Incandescent bulbs are notoriously inefficient, turning over 90 percent of the energy used into wasted heat. Fluorescent lights have long been the choice for efficiency, operating for less than a fourth the cost of incandescent. In recent years, manufacturers have developed compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) which have built in ballasts and can be used in all light fixtures.
Yet, CFLs have many down sides – they contain mercury, are expensive, are subject to fire, they are fragile, will not operate in extreme temperatures, and do not come on instantly. The latest development in lighting, light emitting diodes (LEDs), solve all these problems and use half the energy – if we could only afford them.
As for me, there are already enough daylight hours to wear this old man out. Burning the midnight oil is no longer a great priority.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.