Best Bulb Options: Low-Mercury CFLs

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Some CFL's are better for the environment than others; do your homework before buying them.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, use much less energy than traditional light bulbs, but according to the Environmental Working Group, not all Energy Star-certified CFLs are as safe as they can be.

All CFLs contain some mercury, but the EWG says that there are compact fluorescent bulbs available that have lower levels of mercury than the current Energy Star limit. Some Energy Star-certified bulbs are not permitted in Europe, where the mercury standard for CFLs is much lower. The EWG conducted a study and found seven light bulbs currently on the market that contain significantly less mercury than the Energy Star standard.

The EWG wants Energy Star and its parent agencies, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cut the current standards in half, and is rallying consumers to write to the agency demanding the change.

In addition, the EWG has put together a Green Lighting Guide, with detailed information about the best bulb options. 

More about energy-efficient lighting

• Read about India’s plan to phase out incandescent light bulbs and replace them with CFLs.

• Natural Home managing editor Jessica Kellner judged the Lighting for Tomorrow contest. See which eco-friendly lighting options caught her eye.

• Learn how to naturally light your home.

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