Make The Switch To Energy-Efficient CFL Light Bulbs

Posted by: on October 3rd, 2011 | 5 Comments
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Staring at the bewildering array of light bulb options on the shelves today can make you wonder just how many science degrees you need to replace a bulb in the bathroom. Since when did this become so difficult? First it was incandescent bulbs, now those spiral CFL things?

While the technology and new terminology may seem a bit alien now – trust me when I tell you – it’s not rocket science. Armed with just a few basic facts about the CFL bulbs, you will not only be able to choose the perfect bulb for your lighting needs, but also find savings for every socket in your home.

So, what are CFL’s anyway? And why switch from your old bulbs to CFL’s?

CFLs, or compact fluorescent lamps, are one of the most budget-friendly, energy-efficient lighting options for households today. And, much like the fluorescent tube lights you see in many stores and offices, CFLs emit light when electricity excites the mix of gases inside the spiral bulb.

Compact fluorescents, however, last up to ten times longer than traditional bulbs, and use up to 75% less energy while producing the same amount of light. What’s more, CFLs can save you money. For every 60W incandescent bulb you replace with its 14W CFL equivalent, you can expect to save up to $55 per socket over the lifetime of each bulb.

Sound like a good enough reason to switch? Consider this as well: if every American home replaced just one regular incandescent bulb with an ENERGY STAR® qualified CFL, we would save enough energy to light more than 6 million homes for an entire year and eliminate 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

Choosing The Right CFL

CFLs come in a wide variety of bulb types, brightness levels and color temperatures – soft white globes for the bathroom, bright white flood lights for those recessed cans in the kitchen… you get the idea. CFLs make it easy and convenient to make the switch from energy-wasting incandescent bulbs to energy-saving compact fluorescents.

But whether you need to set the right mood in a room or just replace the front porch light, there are a few new terms you’ll want to familiarize yourself with. First, look for ENERGY STAR® qualified bulbs, which meet the most stringent standards for brightness, color, energy-efficiency and mercury content.

Next, check the Lighting Facts label, which you’ll see on the packaging of all light bulbs at The Home Depot. There you’ll find information about the bulb’s brightness (referred to as lumens), its color temperature or hue (referred to as Kelvin), as well as information about energy use, operation costs and expected bulb life.

Lumens equal Brightness.  Lumens, not watts, tell you how bright the bulb is (watts refers to the amount of energy the bulb uses). Check the lighting facts label for the bulbs light output in lumens to help you decide which CFL is best for the area of your home you want to illuminate. To save even more energy, try choosing the bulb that uses the least amount of watts to get the amount of light output you need.

Incandescent Bulbs CFLs (Energy Star ®) Lumens (Light Output)
40 W 9-13 W 450
60 W 13-15 W 800
75 W 18-25 W 1,100
100 W 23-30 W 1,600

 

Kelvin(K) equals Color Temperature/Light Color.  CFLs also come in a range of different color temperatures, or shades of white light, shown as Kelvin(K) on the lighting facts label. CFLs on the lower end of the temperature scale produce warmer light similar to a soft white incandescent bulb, while bulbs at the higher end will appear cooler with a white or bluish hue.

The Switch Is On

Whether you’re replacing bulbs in a lamp or ceiling fixture, a porch or post light, or even recessed or track lights, The Home Depot has energy-efficient, money saving CFL bulb options for every light socket in your home. And with the rapid enhancements in CFL performance, like the new instant-on technology that enables CFLs to turn on and reach full brightness much faster, and dimmable and 3-way options, compact fluorescents have become an excellent solution for lowering the cost of lighting your home.

At your local The Home Depot store you’ll find the largest selection of top-rated energy-efficient CFL’s. Although you won’t have to replace them often, The Home Depot will help you recycle your CFLs when they burn out – just check for the CFL collection bin at the front of your local store. Visit homedepot.com for more lighting facts, including information about CFLs and other energy efficient light bulb options.

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  1. peterdub says:

    I agree with Kerry in comments
    Your CFL praise is exaggerated.
    CFLs have their advantages – but so do incandescents…

    Consumers can lose money on expensive, little used, bulbs, and the “power factor” of common CFLs means they use twice the power plant energy to what your meter shows, but you will have to pay for that eventually – domestic LEDS also have PF issues, albeit to a lesser extent, apart from the heat contribution of incandescents and other savings factors
    (http://ceolas.net/#li12x onwards)

    You certainly can’t get the same smooth broad spectrum light quality of incandescents with the spiky spectra of CFLs and LEDs, even with filters.

    Mercury release is a worry on breakage
    - while, re mood lighting, dimmable CFLs give of an eerie light when dimmed, compared to the warmer quality of dimmed incandescents. Also, the (still) greater expense of dimmable CFLs and their greater unpredictable fire risk – the fire risk of incandescents being more predictable in terms of burned lampshades etc.

  2. Kerry Hill says:

    CFL’s cost 5-10x more don’t last any longer than incandescent due to 5-10x increase in components to make them work. Longivity is a lie. Plus they are not only toxic when broken but contain electrical components and plastics that trash our environment.

  3. Lucy says:

    Great explanation of CFL lighting. I noticed the savings very quickly when I switched to using CFL bulbs.

    • Jae Warren says:

      Happy you found the info useful, Lucy. Keep your eye on LEDs – prices are dropping rapidly and they offer even more radical energy savings.

  4. Thanks for the tips about CFLs and energy efficiency! We also have some important lamp safety tips on our website at http://esfi.org/index.cfm/cd/FAP/cdid/11641/pid/11633.