Green Tip of the Week #15 : CFLs – a bright idea

If you haven’t yet changed your incandescent light bulbs in your house over to energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs), there’s no time like the present! CFLs are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents. They cost more upfront, but will save you money on your electricity bill almost immediately and they last from 8 to 10 years!

“If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL, in one year it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of more than 800,000 cars.”

At the end of 2007, Congress passed a bill banning incandescent light bulbs by the year 2014. Why it needs to take 6 years for the ban to be in effect is beyond me. In the meantime, you might as well get a head start and start switching your lights over now.

How much money can I save?
You can easily calculate your savings from switching to CFLs over at the One Million Bulbs web site. (Thanks to GrayMatters for the link.)

Where can I buy them?
You can buy CFLs at many stores like ACE Hardware, Costco, IKEA, Lowes, Walmart, and Home Depot, just to name a few.

Isn’t there mercury in CFLs?
Yes, it should be noted that CFLs do contain mercury and one must take certain precautions in cleaning them up if they break and never use a vacuum (thanks, A Mama’s Blog). Also, if and when they burn out, they must be disposed of properly. “The US Environmental Protection Agency recommends that consumers take advantage of available local recycling options for compact fluorescent light bulbs. EPA is working with CFL manufacturers and major U.S. retailers to expand recycling and disposal options. Consumers can contact their local municipal solid waste agency directly, or go to bulb recycling or Earth 911 to identify local recycling options.” Also, some stores offer a recycling option right in the store. Please don’t just toss them into the trash.

If you are concerned about mercury, check out Is Mercury from a Broken CFL Dangerous? from Treehugger. The article does a good job of allaying any fears.

The bottom line is the benefits of CFLs outweigh the risks.

Have any green tips you’ve recently learned? Please email them to me and I may include your tip with a link to your site or blog in a future post. 🙂