Sunday, April 19, 2009

What's the Deal with CFLs?

In a departure from usual posts, this is a personal commentary.

I don't know about you, but I've been disappointed with my compact flourescent lightbulbs (CFLs). Two years ago, I changed all the lightbulbs in my house and replaced them with CFLs. This was no cheap feat, it cost a few hundred dollars. But the touted benefits included the fact that CFLs use 50-80% less energy, which reduces carbon emissions, and the bulbs last up to 10 times longer than incandescents.

My first disappointment came a month later when there was no difference in my electric bill. In fact, the next month's electric bill increased, but it was summer and the air conditioning was in full swing. Besides, lighting is such a miniscule part of the electric bill, I may not have noticed the difference anyway. But I figured I was still helping the environment and the lights would pay for themselves over the lifetime of the bulbs.

Think again. Over the past 2 years, I've had to replace 7 CFL bulbs: 3 exterior bug lights, 2 globe vanity lights, and two 3-way lights. I know this because, like a good recycler, I've kept all of them in a bag for hazardous household waste disposal.

And last night, one of the bulbs exploded! Yes, exploded! It was a 3-way bulb, two light settings had already burned out, but it still offered one level of lighting and was still in use. That is, until it exploded for no apparent reason. Fortunately, no one was sitting near the lamp at the time.

After this incident, the room was allowed to air due to the risk of mercury exposure. The remnants of the bulb have now been placed in my bag for hazardous household waste disposal, and this brings the grand total to 8 CFL bulbs replaced in a span of two years.

So where are the energy savings and longer lifespans that have been claimed? I have to say I've been very disappointed. What's the deal with CFLs?


Joddie said...

Yeah... it just a 'wrong' and 'sucks' advertsiment.. I'm agree with you

compost_and_cats said...

what I've heard from an energy efficiency/conservation agency is that the newer CFLs are better products. Also, you should look for bulbs with an EnergyStar seal as they should be higher quality. Now that the price of CFLs has come down, it should cost everyone less to replace bulbs as needed.

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