Choosing the Right CFL

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Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) will save you money on electricity bills, use less energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, and more than $600 million in annual energy costs.”

“ENERGY STAR qualified bulbs use about 75 % less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.” But with several different kinds on the market, how do you know which ones work best and where?

Here are some tips for using the various types of CFL bulbs:

  • Spiral: the most popular type, includes one-way, 3-way, and dimmable. These can be used in table lamps, floor lamps, and outdoor fixtures.
  • A-shaped: spiral CFLs with a small decorative cover to offer a closer resemblance to conventional incandescent light bulbs. Can be used anywhere you have used incandescents.
  • Globe: covered spirals, only the cover is a bit larger and rounder which make the look compatible with bathroom vanity bars and ceiling pendants.
  • Tubed: spiral bulbs just straighted out. These are perfect for placement in wall sconces.
  • Candle: small decoratively-covered bulbs ideal for ceiling fans and wall sconces.
  • Indoor Reflector: provide directional light in recessed lighting and track lighting fixtures.
  • Outdoor Reflector: sealed to withstand rain and snow, these make great spot lights. Unfortunately they shouldn’t be used with motion sensors, timers, or photocells because it’ll shorten the life of the bulb.

I like to purchase CFLs that come in cardboard multi-packs. It’s less expensive to buy in bulk, and the cardboard can be recycled (unlike the hazardous plastic packaging you’ll see single bulbs in). They’re now available almost everywhere.

As far as the wattage goes, check the label on the CFL package to find the one labeled as equivalent to the incandescent bulb you are replacing. You can also check the lumen rating listed on the package. The higher the lumen rating, the greater the light output. Energy Star shows a handy chart here (near the bottom of the page).

When your cfl’s long life is finally over, be sure to dispose of it properly as it contains trace amounts of mercury inside. There are many local CFL bulb recycling options across the country. Visit these links at the EPA or Earth 911 for more information.

Sources:the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Tag(s): Energy, Events, Going Green, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Global Warming, Hazardous Products / Health Issues, Money Saving

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