Choosing the Perfect Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb

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color_ex2_2700k.jpg“If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars. Here’s what you need to know to choose the right CFL for maximum performance:

  • CFLs perform best in open fixtures that allow airflow, such as table and floor lamps, wall sconces, pendants, and outdoor fixtures.
  • For recessed fixtures, it is better to use a reflector CFL than a spiral CFL since the design of the reflector evenly distributes the light down to your task area.
  • If a light fixture is connected to a dimmer or three-way switch, you’ll need to use a special ENERGY STAR qualified CFL designed to work in these applications. Make sure to look for CFLs that specify use with dimmers or three-way fixtures.
  • Choose a qualified CFL that offers a shade of white light that works best for you. For example, while most CFLs provide warm or soft white light for your home, you could choose a cooler color for task lighting./li>
  • To choose the ENERGY STAR qualified CFL with the right amount of light, find a qualified CFL that is labeled as equivalent to the incandescent bulb you are replacing. Light bulb manufacturers include this information right on the product packaging to make it easy for consumers to choose the equivalent bulb. Common terms include “Soft White 60” or “60 Watt Replacement.”
  • Purchase CFLs that are packaged in cardboard (which can be recycled) instead of plastic bubble packaging (which is not recyclable & won’t biodegrade for 400 years)
  • CFLs contain a small amount of mercury and should be disposed of properly, ideally recycled. More information regarding mercury in CFLs, including proper disposal options and what to do if a bulb breaks, can be found in this fact sheet: Information on Proper Disposal of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) PDF (72KB). Here’s instructions for safe cleanup of a broken bulb.
  • Stylish Energy Star rated light fixtures are also available.


Tag(s): Energy, Going Green, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Global Warming, Money Saving


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