Fluorescent lighting makes a comeback as an energy saver

Fluorescent light bulbs seem synonymous with emitting a harsh bright light, something one would expect to see in a dreary workspace crammed with cubicles, not one’s home. Yet, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are just the right choice as they are four times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and can help households save a ton of energy. CFL bulbs can use 60 percent to 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. They also include different color temperatures, including a soft white light option. CFL bulbs are initially more expensive, but households save a lot of money in the long run because they use 1/3 the electricity and last up to 10 times longer.

Replacing a single incandescent bulb with a CFL could keep a half-ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere over the lifespan of that one bulb. If everyone in the United States used energy-efficient lighting, we could retire 90 average size power plants. That’s a lot of energy. Saving electricity reduces CO2 emissions, sulfur oxide and high-level nuclear waste and CFL bulbs specifically save 2000 times its own weight in greenhouse gas emissions.

CFLs last between 6,000 and 15,000 hours, substantially longer than incandescent bulbs, which last for only 1,000 hours or so. The CFL bulbs come in a variety of styles, shapes and light qualities to suit the different preferences of their customers. Some different shapes offered are spiral lamps, triple tube lamps, standard lamps, globe lamps, flood lamps and candelabra.

Despite their many benefits, CFL bulbs are not without their limitations. CFLs should be used for area lighting and only some are compatible with dimmers. CFLs can be used outdoors but should be protected from the elements. Their usually long lifetimes shorten when the light is switched on and off frequently. One of the main issues, though, is that CFLs contain small amounts of mercury, a toxic metal, which may be released if broken or during disposal. Households must take precaution when disposing of these bulbs for they need to be recycled by those who know how to discard of them properly. Although the clearance of these bulbs require some time, the energy saving capabilities of compact fluorescent bulbs cannot be ignored.