About Compact Fluorescent Lights
IMPORTANT Installation Note
When installing a spiral CFL, DO NOT twist it in by holding the glass tube. Grip the bulb by its (plastic) base to tighten. Twisting of the glass tube may crack the seal at the base and create potential problems, including reduced bulb life or overheating. (The same applies for removal. Grib the plastic base to avoid breaking the bulb.)
Compact Fluorescents use less electricity
The typical CFL bulb uses 66-75% less electricity to produce the same amount of light as a comparable incandescent bulb.
CFL bulbs reduce pollution
Assuming the electricity you use is still produced by a Nuclear or fossil fueled power plant; every watt of energy you use can be translated to pollution created at its source, to generate that watt. Conversely, by every watt you reduce your power usage; you reduce those same polluting emissions -- that power is simply not needed by you anymore. Sure, we're only talking about light bulbs here but in terms of percentages, if you were to change all of your lights from incandescent bulbs to CFL's, you would reduce your energy needs for lighting by 66-75%. That's a significant reduction and something to be proud of. You can literally make this change in a matter of hours by changing a few light bulbs.
CFL bulbs last longer
Higher quality CFL's can last from 8,000-10,000 hours or more. You'll be lucky to get 1000 hours out of your common incandescent bulb. Do you have a bulb that's a pain in the neck to change? You'll realize another benefit by switching it to a CFL. You won't need to change that bulb again for 5-7 years!
But CFL bulbs cost more
Common screw-in CFL's include the fluorescent bulb itself and integrated ballast. This results in higher production costs but the long-term benefits far outweigh this additional expense. Also, newer CFL fixtures and 2-piece CFL's separate the bulb from the ballast and offer the advantage of changing only the bulb itself, reducing the replacement cost.
Here's how bulbs differ
Incandescent bulbs make light by passing electricity through a small wire, or filament. The wire glows hot and produces light. Unfortunately, as much as 90% of the energy used by an incandescent bulb is spent producing heat, not light. That's a lot of wasted energy.
Compact fluorescent bulbs utilize a gas charged tube. Electricity passed through the bulb creates a chemical reaction which produces the light. The result is a cooler, more efficient light source, producing more light (lumens) with less power.
Disposal of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
CFL bulbs contain a trace amount of mercury and should be disposed of properly; in the same manor as other household hazardous waste products like paint, batteries and non-digital thermostats. The concern is valid and lies in concentrations of mercury accumulating in our landfills over time. Find more information on our CFL Disposal page.