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Energy Star-Approved CFLs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) are strongly promoted by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the Energy Star-approved answer to energy conservation. According to the Energy Star web site, “If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.” Those statistics are pretty significant , and worth taking a closer look at.

What qualifies for the Energy Star approval?

In order to qualify for the Energy Star rating, a CFL has to use 75% less energy than standard bulbs, last 10 times longer, save over $30 in electric bills during its lifetime, and produce 75% less heat than other bulbs.

How much does a CFL cost?

Just in a quick search, the average CFL costs about $3.89 per bulb vs. a standard 60 watt bulb at about $.38 a piece. If you save an average of $30 on your utility bills over the lifetime of the bulb, it definitely will pay for itself several times over.

How do you choose the right wattage?

With standard bulbs, you typically determine the light output by the wattage. CFL brightness is measured by the lumen rating. When choosing the bulbs for your fixtures, the lumen rating will help you compare CFL wattage with incandescent bulbs. For example, a sixty-watt incandescent bulb is comparable to a 15-watt CFL.

CFLs can be recycled, and the EPA has some specific guidelines for proper disposal and how to handle a broken bulb. Some special care should be taken with compact fluorescent light bulbs as they contain a small amount of mercury, which can be harmful both to your health and the environment.

It can be hard to break old habits, and most of us have been accustomed to buying the same light bulbs for most of our adult lives. But next time you’re out shopping, consider trying something new. Not only will you do your part to reduce greenhouse gases, but you can save money at the same time. If you are remodeling, work CFLs into your new fixtures at the same time.

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