When considering your home’s energy efficiency, CFL bulbs are one of the easiest ways to accomplish the goal. CFL stands for compact fluorescent lamp and can also be referred to as compact fluorescent lights. CFL bulbs have been around since 1985 when Osram started to put out the EL lamp. These lamps or lights utilize tubes that are manipulated into shapes that make them small enough to fit into tight spaces that a standard light bulb might fit. This makes them easy to use in nearly any setting, whether it is in your home, office or other business setting. They are a popular choice for saving energy, partially driven by the federally required demise of the standard incandescent bulb. Even with the federal rule, there are some things to consider.
Advantages to CFL Bulbs
It has been established that a CFL bulb uses between one fifth and one third of the power that the standard light bulb uses. In addition to using far less electricity to operate, the CFL bulb also lasts up to fifteen times longer than the standard bulb. So while they are more expensive than your standard light bulb, the cost spread out of the life of the bulb seems to surpass the expense of replacing standard light bulbs. When it comes to making sure that you are getting value for your money, CFL bulbs may just be the way to do this. You will see savings in your energy bill, while replacing bulbs far less often.
The light that is emitted by CFL bulbs is as bright as a standard light bulb, but due to the spectral power distribution developed for these bulbs, the color of the light is softer. This provides more comfort for those using the light source. It also means that you will find it to be more becoming in many settings that you might be using these lights.
Safety Concerns for CFL Bulbs
When deciding if you want to replace your standard lights with the CFL bulbs, there are several things to consider. Safety is a concern for many people, just as it is with all fluorescent lamps. All of these bulbs or lamps contain mercury and can be a danger to children and pregnant women alike. This makes it important to take precautions when using these bulbs around individuals that might be in danger. Taking care in the way that they are disposed of is vital and making sure that any broken bulbs are handled in the right way is essential. There are measures that can be taken to ensure that those around the CFL bulbs are safe from harm.
Proper Disposal of a CFL Bulb
If you are concerned about how you put your mark on the environment, you are going to want to take the time to make sure that you dispose of your CFL bulbs properly. There are several ways that you can handle disposing of your CFL bulbs properly, none of which include putting them in your kitchen trash can and setting them out for the garbage collector to take them away. Here are several things that you can do to make sure you are handling the situation in the most environmentally responsible manner.
- Recycle. In this case, there are some government organizations that will take your CFL light bulbs. This is typically accomplished on a local basis and you will want to contact your local recycle center to see if they can direct you to a recycling center that is equipped to handle CFL bulb recycling. You can also contact Earth911.com to find out where you can recycle your CFL light bulbs.
- Take it to the Retailer. You might also contact some of the local retailers. There is a few that offer a drop box for you to put your bagged CFL light bulbs in. Some of them will offer you a rebate to be used for the purchase of new bulbs if you recycle with them.
- Mail it back. You can also find many manufacturers that will offer you a mail back service that allows you to ship your old bulbs to them for recycling. If you contact the manufacturer, they may send you a kit that you can use to seal your old bulbs in and send it back to them. It usually includes postage paid and will be easy to use when you have burned out your CFL light bulbs.
- If you truly can find no way to discard of the CFL light bulbs, you will want to be sure that you bag it well before putting it out for your trash collection. This is not the best option, but if you have no alternatives you want to at least do it as safely as possible.
Proper Cleanup of a broken CFL Bulb
You have likely had an experience where a CFL bulb has broken and you need to get it cleaned up. Taking special care is vital in this situation. First, you want to be sure that you NEVER use a vacuum cleaner if you can help it to take care of a broken bulb of this kind. Take time to sweep it into a bag and seal it. If you have a Ziploc bag, you are on the right track.
If the breakage takes place on a carpet, you may have to use a vacuum to do some of the work. Use a vacuum that has a bag in it to catch the debris. Empty the vacuum immediately and do so outside. This is going to keep any particles that you might be dealing with from floating through the air into the lungs of anyone in the area. You want to contain any particles as much as possible for safety reasons. Mercury is a toxin and you need to be sure that it stays out of the air.
Construction Considerations for CFL
If you are in the process of working with a home remodeling contractor and you are interested in switching all of your lighting to CFL lighting options, you will want to go over this with the contractor in advance. It can change your home lighting cost. You will want to make sure that you are working with a home remodel contractor that understands the lighting effect of CFL vs incandescent fixtures. There are many options out there to help add to the design of your home along with providing you with the savings you are looking for.
When working with a home inspection professional to make sure that your home is efficient, you will want to go over the advantages of having CFL lighting in your home. They can help you to weigh the options and decide if the cost is worth the advantages and savings that come with this type of lighting. Most trustworthy home contractors will be aware of the benefits of this type of lighting, but they may suggest that you speak with an electrical contractor regarding the process and expense.
Understanding the CFL Savings
Changing your fixtures to CFL specific fixtures can be costly, but the offset is well worth it. For example, if you invest $90 to $100 in new fixtures you would likely save as much as $1,500 over a five year life span of a CFL bulb. This is roughly 12% savings on your utility bill. If you don’t want to change fixtures, you can simply put CFL bulbs in a standard fixture. It is not as efficient as a CFL fixture, but you will still make a large impact on energy use.
Before you decide if changing your home lighting to CFL is going to be the best option for you, take some time to do the numbers. You might find that you are saving far more than you are spending over the amount of time that you own your home.