The Truth About Energy Efficient Lightbulbs

Keeping your home eco-friendly. What you need to know about energy-efficient light bulbs. (Part 1 of 2)

What are CFLs?

CFL stands for Compact Florescent Light. These are energy-efficient light bulbs that you can install into your home almost anywhere you install regular bulbs. These cool new bulbs are a great way to make your home a more eco-friendly space, while also keeping those electric bills down.

How are CFLs different from the light bulbs I already have?

You are most probably familiar with incandescent bulbs. These are the round bulbs with a little wire inside that Thomas Edison invented in 1879. Incandescent bulbs use an electrical current to heat that little wire until it glows. Unfortunately, this method causes most of the energy used to create heat, and only about 10% goes to giving off light. CFLs also use an electrical current, however instead of heating up a metal wire, it excites a combination of argon and mercury vapor, which produces ultraviolet light. This ultraviolet light stimulates a florescent coating within the tube and voila! Energy-efficient light.

Show me the math!

An easy way to see how much enery you’re saving is to compare the number of watts between incandescent bulbs and CFLs. Note: Each bulb will give off the same amount of light (lumens.) They just use a different number of watts.

9 watt CFL = 40 watt incandescent

13-15 watt CFL = 60 watt incandescent

18-20 watt CFL = 75 watt incandescent

22-27 watt CFL = 100 watt incandescent

The Pro/Con List

The Pros:

1.) They’re eco-friendly! According to the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of energy, if everyone replaced just one incandescent light bulb in their home with a CFL, we could eliminate greenhouse gases equal to 800,000 cars!

2.) Money, money, money. Because CFLs use 75% less energy than incandescents, you’re going to see that reflected big time on your electric bill.

3.) Longevity. CFLs can last anywhere between 5-10 years. Enough said!

The cons (but with a silver lining!):

1.) Money, money, money. Buying the actual CFL is usually a much more expensive venture than buying an incandescent. However, as we’ve seen, you’ll save money over time from using less energy and not having to replace burnt out bulbs every year. Additionally there are a number of programs and organizations that offer free CFLs. Google your area to see if there’s one near you.

2.) Mercury. The thought of mercury in your home can be a bit unnerving. However the levels are very low, and when certain precautions are taken, it’s nothing to worry over. (Read part two of this post to learn more!)

3.) Time. When you first get CFLs, you’ll notice that they start out dim and then brighten up within about 60 seconds. This is due to that argon-mercury-ultraviolet process, and it can be annoying at first. Once they’re fully lit however, they often appear even brighter than incandescent bulbs.

Intrigued?  Want to know more? Check in later for part 2, The Do’s and Don’t’s of Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs.

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