Save money, stop changing light bulbs all the time and reduce CO2 emissions, all in one fell swoop.
I was in Brewer’s Hardware on the Post Road in Mamaroneck a couple weekends ago to buy a couple screws for a project and noticed they now stock compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs. I tried these bulbs years ago when they were bulkier, more expensive and the light output was, well, fluorescent.
You’ve come a long way, baby.
We have replaced about 1/3 of the light bulbs in our house and this GE Energy-Smart CFL Savings Calculator (note ConEd charges $0.16/kilowatt hour and the default setting on this calculator is $0.10/kilowatt hour) tells me after installing just 19 light bulbs we will save $233 annually or $1,281 over the lifetime of the 19 bulbs. And this CFL savings calculator from Environmental Defense tells me by replacing one single 60W bulb with a CFL bulb we will prevent 414 pounds of C02 from being released. Cool.
If you are not sure or just want to try CFL bulbs, I recommend starting with buying 5-10 compact 13W, 20W and 27W fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs designed to replace the old 60W, 75W and 100W varieties and try these in various high traffic areas in your home where you tend to leave the lights on for an extended time.
Here are a couple things I have learned switching over, which will help anyone considering the switch:
- Different Bulbs. You need different bulbs for dimmers, ceiling fan lights, regular and outdoor lights.
- You May Know More Than the Store. Retailers are just getting educated about compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs and are not carrying all the bulbs you will need. Brewer’s has a decent selection and told me they are slowly expanding to carry bulbs you can use in dimmers, etc. John at Brewer’s was very helpful. Home Depot in Portchester also carries the CFL bulbs, but good luck getting any sort of help over there.
- Different Light. Soft white vs. natural light. Just like old fashioned light bulks, CFLs come in these varieties. I find soft white to be brighter and warmer, but it is a personal decision.
- Warm Up. When you turn on some CFL bulbs, they may take a minute to warm up to full brightness. You’ll have to turn off your Type A personality for 60-120 seconds.
- Brighten Up. If you think a spot in your house is dark, you can make it brighter. Say you have a light socket rated for an old fashioned 75W incandescent bulb. You can either use a 20W CFL bulb that will provide the same light output or you can upgrade to a 27W CFL bulb that has the same light output as an old fashioned 100W incandescent.
- Save Your Receipt. Not all CFL bulbs will fit in light fixtures made for old fashioned light bulbs, so save your receipt, so you can return bulbs that do not fit.
Depending on the CFL bulb, it will last 4-9 years. When the bulb does finally give out, it must be disposed of as hazardous material (ie not in household trash) because of its mercury content. You can bring these to one of Westchester County’s household chemical clean-up days (there is usually one at Rye Playland in May and again in November).
GE offers some good background on CFL bulbs including common questions & answers.
I found it helpful to buy our CFL bulbs at Brewer’s so I could exchange things easily, but here are a couple online stores I found.
- EcoLightBulbs.org This site, run on the side by a product manager at Google, claims to be a non-profit that sells CFL bulbs at cost.
- Bulb America
We have not tried these online retailers, so let us know about your experience. Good luck!