If there is one thing we have all heard, it is that the new CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) bulbs can save you money. I was a little shocked by how much money when I read Can Fluorescent Lighting Really Save You Money? But there are some things that can be very confusing about them. Many also believe they have to put up with that squirrely looking bulb. Let's face it, lighting should also look atheistically appealing.
First, you should know that the CFL bulb has evolved. No longer do you have to be concerned you will have to look at that unappealing bulb to save yourself a lot of money. After all, the average home uses 28% of its electrical use on lighting. CFL bulbs have been known to save the average household 30% on their electrical bill. Now you no longer have to give up a normal looking bulb to save money!
The bulbs now come in normal shapes and sizes. They come in the original bulb form, recessed light form and candle light bulb form. They also come in soft light and daylight brightness. There is a bulb that will fit every need you may have and still look as you would want it to.
However, there are some things you need to consider before purchasing your bulbs. They are much more expensive than the old incandescent lighting. The curly looking bulb remains the most inexpensive at this time and of course you will need to pay a little more if you would like the traditional looking and the recessed lighting. With the bulbs being rather costly, you will want to make sure you use the correct light in the correct place.
Dimmer switched bulbs take a special CFL bulb. Because of the way the bulbs are made, the dimmer places stress on a regular CFL bulb causing it to cease working earlier than its expected life. They are now making CFL bulbs specifically for the dimmer switches. The same is true for the three stage lights. Make sure you spend the extra cash to get CFL bulbs made for dimmer switches and for dimmer switches.
CFL Bulbs take some time reach their maximum brightness. The average time it takes to reach full luminosity is approximately 90 seconds. This is why it is best to use a CFL bulb in a place where the light will remain on. Constant off and on will shorten the average life span of the bulb which is usually 10 times that of an incandescent. Below is a light in my home coming on. This video has been time lapsed--it usually takes about 90 seconds for it to reach full brightness.
CFL Bulbs do contain mercury. The amount is so minimal that it is less than a fraction of the amount of mercury found in the amalgam filling your dentist puts in your mouth. As the light reaches the end of its life, the mercury becomes inert as it has fused to the glass. Many places such as Home Depot, will dispose of the old bulbs for you in the proper way.
Know your wattage conversions. This is where many people get confused. Because the bulbs create light in different ways, it effects the wattage of the light. The CFL bulb makes light in a way that uses less wattage to produce more light. In fact, it is 4-6 times more efficient than the incandescent light. The conversion chart looks like this:
Standard Bulb CFL Bulb
60 watt 13-15 watt
75 watt 20 watt
100 watt 26-29 watt
150 watt 38-42 watt
To help you with your lighting plan, click HERE for an interactive guide that allows you to click on each area of your home. You can adjust the lighting to what makes you comfortable.
Do your part! A recent study in Canada showed that if every household replaced just one 60 watt incandescent bulb with a CFL bulb, they would save $73 million on in energy and it would be like taking 66,000 cars off the road. What can we as Americans do?