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. 🙂

12 thoughts on “Green Tip of the Week #15 : CFLs – a bright idea”

  1. I just had a conversation with my Mom last night about how she and my father need to start purchasing this type of light bulb for their home. So many people don’t realize how much of a difference these type of bulbs can make.

  2. My parents finally got on board with these “new fangled crazy looking light bulbs” after we showed them our electric bill…just the 2 of them ran up bills nearly double what our family of 6 received every month. Now they are asking about other green tips to save money.

    Hey, maybe they don’t care what they are doing for the environment and only see dollar signs, but whatever it takes to leave a few resources for my grand babies, right? I guess the ‘older generation’ responds well to saving money…not so well to the saving the planet bit.

  3. we replaced a bunch of our bulbs last fall but now i’m doing it as they burn out. i was very excited to find “globe” style bulbs, when two of the three “pretty” bulbs in our bathroom burned out this month i just replaced them all with the low wattage bulbs. they take a minute to warm up but they work just fine! great post…i think everyone needs a reminder.

  4. One Billion Bulbs is a great site where you can calculate your savings and learn all sorts of great tips about conservation. You can even put a banner/button up on your blog so your visitors can calculate their savings, too.
    I really need to learn how to make links work in comments . . . .

  5. Great tip! As our bulbs go we replace them with these. The little things count. The Home Depot in are area has a hard time keeping them stocked.

  6. When we replace our light bulbs in our house we have been using these ones. They do take a minute to get to the peak brightness, but it’s a great thing to do.

  7. My husband is allergic to all types of fluorescent lights. The flicker & high pitch sound give him horrible headaches if exposed to them for prolong periods of time.

    We did try the CFLs hoping they would not trigger headaches, but they are.

    Have you run across any other types of light bulbs that are better for the environment like these?

  8. What about the harsh light these bulbs put off, yuck. Or the fact that they interfere with baby monitors…we have enough trouble with this living in a townhouse. And I still don’t feel comfortable with the risk of mercury exposure.

    I’m sorry, but this is one thing I just can’t get on board with…and I know in a few years I will have no choice.

  9. We’ve been using these for a long while now. We love how long they last & how good we feel buying and using them. 🙂

  10. Please do not ignore the fact that 10 years from now when millions upon millions of these bulbs have reached the end of their life cycle they will be dumped into the environment to do their mercury damage. It would be nice to think that by then there will be a recycling solution to all this mercury.

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