(This article was taken from the Environmental
Defense website with permission)
to Pick a Better Bulb
Though we call
them light bulbs, traditional incandescent bulbs are actually small
heaters that give off a little bit of light something you know if
you've ever touched a bulb that's been on for a while. These bulbs
were technological wonders when they were patented in 1880, but
today they are inefficient dinosaurs. They waste energy and money,
and they are responsible for millions of tons of global warming
next generation of light bulbs
Fortunately, the next generation of bulbs is here: Compact fluorescent
light bulbs (CFLs) now give off high-quality light using a fraction
of the electricity. Using CFLs puts less strain on the electric
grid and saves you money. If every household replaced just three
60-watt incandescent light bulbs with CFLs, we would reduce as much
pollution as if we took 3.5 million cars off the roads!
If you were
disappointed by CFL bulbs in the last couple years, it's time to
try again. The design of the bulbs and quality of light have improved
dramatically. Also, though the price of a CFL is higher than traditional
bulbs, CFLs save in the long run. They lower your electric bill
and last up to 15 times as long as the old-fashioned bulbs. Here's
how to make the switch:
with one bulb.
For your first compact fluorescent purchase, buy just one to make
sure that it throws the kind of light you want. Light from yesterday's
fluorescent lights, common in offices and schools, can seem "cold."
Light from CFLs is different and better CFLs can achieve the same
kind of lighting you're used to from incandescent bulbs. Look for
packages labeled "2700 degrees Kelvin" or "warm-white."
your watts and lumens.
We are used to choosing bulbs by how much electricity they use a
40-watt incandescent bulb is on the dim side and uses less power,
and a 100-watt bulb is bright and uses a lot of juice. CFL bulbs
have much lower wattage numbers than their incandescent cousins,
but don't let that fool you. CFLs provide much more light at a fraction
of the wattage of traditional bulbs. Because of this, CFLs are often
categorized by lumens. Lumens measure the amount of light a bulb
gives off, and they are a more accurate way to tell how bright the
new bulbs are.
CFL Lumens Cost Savings CO2 Savings
40W 11-14W > 490 $39-$44 507-572 lbs.
60W 15-19W > 900 $62-$68 806-884 lbs.
75W 20-25W > 1,200 $76-$83 988-1,079 lbs.
100W 26-29W > 1,750 $107-$112 1,391-1,456 lbs.
150W 38-42W > 2,600 $163-$169 2,119-2,197 lbs.
for cost and CO2 savings assume 15,000-hour life for CFL.
If you don't want to print this page out, remember this rule of
thumb: CFLs use about a quarter of the wattage to produce the same
light. So to replace a traditional 60-watt bulb, buy a 15-watt
CFL: 60-watt incandescent / 4 = 15 watts.
the right shape and size.
Many stores will let you return a bulb if you find it doesn't fit
properly, but keep an eye on two factors to save yourself an extra
CFLs have a larger bulb, which can be too big for some lamps. Depending
on where you're going to install your CFLs, be sure to know how
big the shade is (to know how big a bulb it can accommodate) and
whether or not the bulb will show.
Many CFLs have
a coiled bulb, but there are now versions available that have the
same shape and size as an old-fasioned bulb. These newer CFLs aren't
available in many stores yet, but you can order them on a number
of web sites. One vendor is offering a special discount on these
bulbs in support of this campaign. (See the discounted bulb.)
CFLs screw into standard light sockets; however, on some bulbs,
the plastic piece above the screw part is slightly wider and might
not fit in every lamp. Avoid the modular bases that terminate with
Energy Star to save the most energy.
The most energy-efficient CFLs carry the Energy Star label, the
imprimatur of the government-backed energy efficiency program.
careful choosing CFLs for a dimmer.
There are exceptions to this rule, but the majority of CFLs are
not made for dimmers yet. There are a few that already do work,
but scrutinize the package to make sure. Look for bulbs labeled
"cold-cathode" and be sure the package says "for
use in dimmers."
Even the bulbs
made for dimmers should only be used with sliding dimmer switches,
not the round, rotating dimmer switches.
for indoor or outdoor use.
CFLs are designed for both indoor and outdoor use. Check the packaging
to make sure you get the kind you need.
of your bulbs properly.
All compact fluorescents contain trace amounts of mercury. Recycling
your burned out bulbs is the best option. Contact your local government
(Household Hazardous Waste program) to see if recycling is an option
in your area.
But don't worry
-- changing to a compact fluorescent bulb will result in less mercury
being released. Your reduced electricity use means far fewer mercury
emissions from coal-fired power plants.
The Sierra Club is a nonprofit member-supported,
public interest organization that promotes conservation of the natural
environment by influencing public policy decisions -- legislative,
administrative, legal, and electoral.
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