Mother Earth Living

Save Money with Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Reducing your lightbulbs will reduce your energy consumption.
By Natural Home Staff
November/December 2006
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How many people does it take to screw in a light bulb and save the planet?

Just one: you.

Replacing a single 75-watt incandes­cent bulb with a 20-watt compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) will reduce your electricity consumption by roughly 550 kilowatt-hours over the bulb's life. That translates to 1,300 pounds less carbon dioxide and 20 pounds less sulfur dioxide released into the atmosphere. Multiply that by all the bulbs in your home, then by all the homes in your neighborhood-think of the savings.

Getting Started

1. Change any bulbs that burn many hours: hallways, kitchens, porches.

2. Begin with bulbs that are difficult to change. Switching to a CFL means you won't have to change it again for five to seven years.

3. Test a brand and bulb model before you purchase replacements for all your lights. Better quality CFLs produce no noticeable flicker; lesser quality bulbs may flicker or delay at startup.

4. Purchase CFLs in the 2700 Kelvin range if you want the light to approximate the yellow color you're accustomed to from incandescent bulbs. (The color temperature of light is rated in degrees Kelvin, or "K.")

5. Bulbs on dimming circuits or three-way lamps require CFLs specifically designed for those purposes. Using a standard CFL in a dimming circuit is a fire hazard.

CFL Bulb Benefits

Use less electricity: A typical CFL bulb uses 66 to 75 percent less electricity to produce the same amount of light as a comparable incandescent light bulb.

Reduce pollution: Every watt of energy you use can be translated to the pollution created at its source. For every watt you reduce your power usage, you reduce those same polluting emissions.

Last longer: Higher quality CFLs can last from 8,000 to 10,000 hours or more, whereas you're lucky to get 1,000 hours from an incandescent.

CFL Disposal

CFL bulbs contain an extremely small amount of mercury; about 1/100 the amount in a common thermometer. An unbroken CFL emits no mercury and doesn't pose a health risk. However, expended CFLs should be disposed of at your local household hazardous waste site.

If you break a CFL bulb, don't inhale the vapor. Sweep the pieces together with a brush or broom—not with your hand. Don't use a vacuum. Clean up glass with a wet rag or towel and place the rag and the pieces into a sealed plastic bag.

Adapted with permission from .

Watt to Look For:

Replace This Incandescent Bulb Use This CFL Bulb
40 watts 9 to 12 watts
60 watts 13 to 18 watts
75 watts 19 to 24 watts
100 watts 25 to 30 watts

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