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CFLs: Lighting Your Home, Not Lightening Your Wallet

Green Building

CFLs: Lighting Your Home, Not Lightening Your Wallet Blog Feature

By: EYA Pugrant on June 28th, 2011

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Consider this fact: 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.”

If that fact is not enough incentive to start utilizing energy efficient light bulbs, then perhaps consider the personal gains you will receive from a smaller energy bill. Energy efficient light bulbs, technically called a compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL), may seem more expensive at first glance. On average, CFLs cost about three times more than an equivalent incandescent bulb, but the key is to consider the lifespan of CFLs compared to incandescent bulbs. The average CFL ENERGY STAR light bulb will run for about 8,000 hours, the equivilant of more than seven years of typical household use. In contrast, incandescent bulbs only last about 1,000 hours. Changing one bulb in your home to a CFL will cut about $40 off your energy bill in the bulb's lifespan – which means it ends up paying for itself multiple times over. Check out this CFL Purchasing Guide if you have questions about which CFL bulbs to purchase for your home.

When your CFL bulb runs out, however, proper measures must be taken to ensure that the light bulb is disposed of properly. CFL bulbs are completely safe when they are running and unbroken, but CFL bulbs contain a small amount of Mercury that can be harmful to the environment and humans if exposed. Always use caution when handling bulbs and if one breaks, be sure to clean it up in a safe way. The Environmental Protection Agency emphasizes the importance of getting rid of the bulbs appropriately and there are many local retailers that will recycle your CFL bulbs . Lowes, True Value Hardware, Home Depot, and IKEA currently take back CFL bulbs at store locations, or you can even pay to mail them to designated CFL recyclers . In addition, most local city recycling centers have specified drop-offs for CFL bulbs and other household hazardous waste.

For more details on compact fluorescent light bulbs, consult energystar.gov.

Used CFLs can be dropped off in Alexandria, Virginia at 3224 Colvin St on Mondays & Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Used CFLs can be dropped off in DC at the Ft. Totton Transfer Station, 4900 John F. McCormack Rd, NE, on the first Saturday of every month.