Project: Use ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs
Change your bulbs, save a bundle!
Those squiggly bulbs last up to 10 times longer and use 75% less energy than equivalent incandescent bulbs —that’s serious savings of energy and money! And today, compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) comes in a tremendous array of sizes and shapes, including dimmables, candelabra bulbs, outdoor floodlights, and even ones that look like old-fashioned incandescents.
I’ve heard CFLs contain mercury and are bad for the environment. Is that true?
Mercury is a naturally occurring element, and it is also released into our environment through man-made processes like generating electricity from coal-fired power plants. When you use less electricity to light your home you are actually releasing less mercury into our environment. On average, CFLs contain 2.5 milligrams of mercury, or an amount that is the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Over the course of its life a CFL will use less electricity and therefore emit 4.6 milligrams less mercury than the incandescent bulb.
This fact sheet from ENERGY STAR has much more information about mercury and CFLs.
How do I dispose of old CFLs?
Old CFLs can be recycled at the Montgomery County Transfer Station. Many retailers that sell CFLs also collect and recycle the old ones. Check with your local hardware store or your favorite home improvement retailer for more information.
What do I do if I break a CFL?
If you break a CFL open a window and ventilate the area for 15 minutes. Use a dust pan and broom to pick up the big pieces. To get the small pieces of glass, wrap a loop of packing tape, masking tape or duct tape around your hand so the sticky side is out. Then dab the area where the CFL broke. Do not vacuum up the pieces. More information is available at the Department of Environmental Protection’s CFL page.
Doesn’t the light from a CFL just look different than a regular light bulb?
CFLs are available in several light temperatures: warm is the same color as light from incandescent bulbs; cool or bright light is good for task lighting; daylight or natural light is very bright and good for reading. You can see pictures of the various color temperatures here on ENERGY STAR’s CFL pages and find the right light for your lamp.