Letter: Waiting for a correction on the correction

From JACK LIMPERT, Washingtonian editor-at-large: Subject — Journalists and math. On Friday the Washington Post had a front-page story, “Affordability award goes to a $50 light bulb,” that mostly made fun of the U.S. government for giving a $10 million prize (dubbed the L Prize) to a light bulb that it claims is “green but affordable.”

The visual with Friday’s story showed that the prize-winning bulb will cost you $50, and it will give the same light as 30 60-watt bulbs that cost $1 each. When you add in the electricity used for each over 10 years, the old incandescent bulbs will cost you a total of $48 and the prize-winning new bulb will cost you $53.

The verdict seems to be that the new $50 bulb is a pretty dumb idea.

A small correction on page A2 of today’s Post:

At 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, the L Prize bulb’s 300 kilowatt-hours of energy would cost $33, not $3. Thirty incandescent bulbs, which would last roughly the same amount of time as one L Prize bulb, would use 1,800 kilowatt-hours, at a cost of $198, not $18. The incandescent bulbs’ 10-year cost, including the bulbs’ purchase price, would come to $228, more than the L Prize bulb’s $83.

Even money that they’ll have to correct the correction.

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