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Safety Concerns and Options for Energy Saving LightingBy: Danny Lipford
Are compact fluorescent bulbs really worthwhile? I heard they have mercury in them. Are there any other options? -Jesse
Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs last up to 10 times longer and use 25% of the energy of incandescent bulbs. Replacing a single incandescent bulb with a CFL can save over $30 in the course of the bulb’s life.
CFL bulbs do contain a very small amount of mercury, and you should follow safety precautions in cleaning up broken bulbs. LED (light emitting diode) bulbs are an even more energy efficient lighting option that does not contain mercury, but LED bulbs are more expensive than CFLs.
- Truth About Mercury Contamination from CFL Bulbs (video)
- CFL Bulbs: A Bright Idea for Going Green (article)
- LED Lighting 101 (article)
- Understanding Watts vs. Lumens for Home Lighting (article)
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Jesse asks: Are compact fluorescent bulbs really worthwhile? I heard they have mercury in them. Are there any other options?
Danny Lipford: Yes, I definitely think CFLs are worthwhile, especially if you compare it to a traditional incandescent bulb. Now a 60-watt bulb, like this, is expected to last around 1,200 hours but a CFL—8,000 hours. And for the same amount of light you are getting out of this 60-watt bulb, you can get it here for about 13 to 15 watts.
Now, CFLs do contain a little bit of mercury. But if it breaks or if it goes bad, you need to handle it carefully, put it in a resealable plastic bag, and dispose of it properly.
Now another option—and you’re hearing a lot about—LEDs, because they last 50,000 hours. And for the same light you would get out of this 60-watt bulb, you’re getting it here for only 6 to 8 watts.