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Replace incandescent bulbs with CFL bulbs

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A CFL bulb, also known as a compact fluorescent lamp, compact fluorescent light bulb, or an energy-saving light bulb, is a type of lamp that fits into a standard light bulb socket. Buying a CFL bulb helps because CFL bulbs are significantly more efficient than standard (incandescent) bulbs.

Find it! CFL bulbs

Today’s CFL bulbs bear little resemblance to those nasty, flickery fluorescent bulbs that made everyone look yellow and deathly ill before the turn of the century. The quality of light’s terrific, they last much longer than regular bulbs (eight or 10 times!), save money ($50 per bulb!), and cut energy usage dramatically. Some are even ENERGY STAR qualified, meaning they’ll be ultra-efficient. Just remember: all CFLs should be recycled when they stop shining.

Before you buy

One important thing to note: choose the appropriate color temperature for the bulb, measured in “K’s” (kelvins). Color temperature is often marked on the package. Here are types of color temperature to look for:

  • “Warm white” or “Soft white” (2700 K to 3000 K). What you’ll want most often—looks like incandescent light, but slightly yellower (not noticeable behind a lampshade or frosted casing).
  • “Bright white” (3500 K). Not as “warm” as “warm white,” and sometimes good for work situations where you need bright light and precision (e.g. your basement workbench).

Also, because the bulbs are so much more efficient, you need a much lower wattage than you’re used to with incandescent bulbs to get the same amount of light. For example, an 18-watt CFL bulb generates about the same amount of light as a 75-watt incandescent bulb. All bulb boxes show the conversion for you. As a rule of thumb, multiply the CFL Bulb wattage by five to get the incandescent equivalent (four for CFL bulbs greater than 25 watts).

CFL bulbs help you go green because…

  • Switching from traditional incandescent light bulbs reduces your electricity usage, typically by 65 percent to 80 percent.
  • CFLs have a rated life eight to 10 times as long as incandescent bulbs, which means fewer replacements and less trash produced.
  • They don’t generate heat like incandescent bulbs, so fans and air conditioners can be used less frequently or at lower levels.

Lighting accounts for 5-10 percent of the total energy use in an average US home and nearly 28 percent of total office energy consumption.[1][2] Lighting is responsible for using about a fourth of all electricity consumed in the United States.[3] The energy used in the average home can be responsible for more than twice the greenhouse gas emissions of the average car.[4]

Choosing CFLs over conventional incandescent lights also saves consumer's money. CFLs (often $3 - $9 apiece) are slightly higher in cost than incandescent bulbs but pay back for themselves, typically within a few hundred hours of usage. Each 75-watt incandescent bulb you replace with an equivalent CFL, for example, can save you over $50 in electricity costs over the lifetime of that bulb.

Controversy: CFL bulbs and mercury

Many have criticized CFLs for their mercury content, claiming that they're really not a good environmental alternative lighting solution since they contribute to mercury poisoning. According to ENERGY STAR, CFLs are safe to use in the home. They contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing—an average of 5 milligrams (roughly equivalent to the tip of a ball-point pen). By comparison, traditional thermometers contain 500 milligrams of mercury—more than 100 times the amount in one CFL.[5] Dental fillings often content 60-200 time more mercury than a CFL, and watch batteries five times more.[6]

In response, some companies, such as Philips and Walmart, have vowed to make very low mercury content and mercury-free CFL bulbs. But environmentalists maintain that even with the small amount of mercury contained in CFLs, the environmental impact of these bulbs is far less than incandescents. This is especially true since CFLs avoid the mercury-laden coal-fired power plant emissions by working more efficiently. In fact, Noah Horowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) explains that "the energy savings delivered through the use of CFLs will actually reduce more mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants than is added through manufacture of the bulbs."[7]

Glossary

  • mercury: Found in many CFL bulbs, mercury can accumulate in tissue and may cause brain and kidney damage, especially in children.

External links

Comments

09/02/2008
4:22pm
greengoddess

Can any users give any reco's of CFLs that they love that are NOT a harsh green color? thx!

10/06/2008
10:54am
Sarah

I said thanks, but no thanks, to those incandescents

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