Going CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs)

Before I embark on these little projects, I do some research and get some background about what I’m getting myself into.  A little late on the uptake, I’ve decided that I should finally make that switch to CFLs, so I hit up the usual suspects: TreeHugger, ApartmentTherapy, eartheasy, etc…  And as usual, I found the information I need, but unfortunately, there appears to be a lot more to switching lightbulbs than meets the eye. 


I will lay out what I think is the pertinent information and provide links if you are interested in learning more, but I think what I put up should suffice in getting you prepared to make the switch as well.  Through the week, if what is important to know and not know changes, I will revise this post and add new posts to supplement this one.  I have about ten bulbs that will be making the switch, including floor and desk lamps, wall sconces, ceiling lights, and outdoor lighting.

Saving Money and the Planet from Energy Star:

ENERGY STAR qualified bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. 
Save about $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb’s lifetime.
Produce about 75 percent less heat, so they’re safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling.

Types of Bulbs from environmental defense:

Energy-saving light bulbs now come in all shapes and sizes. Choose as many or as few criteria as you like and we’ll recommend bulbs that match.

Some fixtures can be challenging to fit, so read our reviews, check the side-by-side pictures, and consult our tips for buying energy-saving bulbs. Thanks for helping to save energy and cut pollution!

Converting Wattage from GE:

CFL Wattage Standard Bulb   CFL Bulb
60w = 13w-15w
75w = 20w
100w = 26w-29w
150w = 38w-42w

Because the wattage of a CFL bulb is much lower than that of an incandescent, you can use higher wattage CFL giving you the equivalent light of a higher wattage incandescent. For example: If your fixture says not to exceed 60 watts, you can use a 15 watt CFL to get the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb or use up to a 42 watt CFL and increase the amount of light.

Dealing with Mercury from TreeHugger:

There has recently been some concern over the possibility that broken CFLs can be an important source of exposures to mercury, a toxic metal and a key component of compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). Although mercury is a toxic pollutant, mercury exposures from broken CFLs are not likely to harm you and your family. This is due to several factors, including the amount and duration of your exposures and the specific type of mercury that you are exposed to.

Disposal from GE and Earth 911:

Like paint, batteries, thermostats, and other hazardous household items, CFLs should be disposed of properly. Do not throw CFLs away in your household garbage if better disposal options exist. To find out what to do first check www.earth911.org (where you can find disposal options by using your zip code) or call 1-877-EARTH911 for local disposal options.


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