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03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Save Money By Using Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs

From Associated Content, by Hally Z.

It is true that compact fluorescent lightbulbs initially cost more than incandescent lightbulbs. However, this difference in cost is usually made up in just six months of use.

Compact fluorescent lightbulbs are not only good for the environment - they can also help save you money. According to Energy Star, lighting accounts for 20 percent of the electrical bill in most U.S. homes. A compact fluorescent lightbulb uses about 75 percent less energy than a traditional incandescent one, and lasts 10 times longer.

For example, consider the 800 lumen incandescent lightbulb compared with a comparable compact fluorescent lightbulb. (A lumen is a measure of light.) While both bulbs produce 800 lumens of light, it takes only 13 watts of energy to power the compact fluorescent bulb, as opposed to 60 watts for the incandescent bulb. Due to these different energy requirements, over its lifetime, a single compact fluorescent lightbulb will save the average household $30 in electrical costs. Furthermore, because compact fluorescent lightbulbs generate significantly less heat than incandescent ones, they reduce the cooling costs of homes and buildings.

It is true that compact fluorescent lightbulbs initially cost more than incandescent lightbulbs. However, this difference in cost is usually made up in just six months of use. Also, while the average lightbulb lasts only about 1,000 hours, a compact fluorescent lightbulb has a lifespan of 7,000 to 10,000 hours.

Considering that the average household has at least 30 light fixtures, the electrical cost savings from compact fluorescent lightbulb usage can be huge. This is especially true if compact fluorescent lightbulbs are installed in high-use areas such as outdoor porches, living rooms and kitchens. For those who would like to calculate just how much money is saved from the installation of compact fluorescent lightbulbs, the Environmental Defense Fund offers a useful online calculator. This calculator also estimates how much every single compact fluorescent bulb helps the environment by reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

One concern that people have with compact fluorescent lightbulbs is that the bulbs contain a small amount of mercury. However, as long as the bulbs are recycled at qualified mercury recycling centers, the mercury should pose no threat to people or to the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides useful information on mercury-containing lightbulb recycling centers and locations. Best of all, recycling compact fluorescent lightbulbs costs no money.

When choosing compact fluorescent lightbulbs, it is important to take note of the location, shape, features, brightness and color of light emitted by the bulb. Location examples may include the outdoors, a ceiling fan or a wall sconce. A lightbulb may be shaped like a spiral, globe or flood lightbulb, and have features such as a dimmable or three-way switch. Lightbulb brightness (lumens) should also be taken into consideration so that an area receives sufficient illumination. Finally, lightbulbs may emit cool light or warm light, with these light color intensities described on a Kelvin temperature scale. More information is available at the Environmental Defense Fund's Web site.

For those who are hoping to save additional money on compact fluorescent lightbulbs, manufacturers such as GE, Panasonic and Greenlite do offer bulk purchase discounts. One Billion Bulbs offers more information on where compact fluorescent lightbulbs can be purchased online and in bulk.

Sources:

Energy Star: Lighting Products: www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=lighting.pr_lighting

Energy Star: Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs for Consumers: www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=cfls.pr_cfls

Environmental Defense Fund: Calculate Your Bulb Savings: www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=602&campaign=mts

Bulb/lamp recycling: www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/wastetypes/universal/lamps/index.htm

Find an Energy-Saving Lightbulb: www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagid=632&campaign=mts

One Billion Bulbs: Buy Compact Fluorescent (CFL) Bulbs Online: www.onebillionbulbs.com/BuyOnline