CFL bulbs save money and reduce carbon emissions

I’ve been a convert of CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp or Light) bulbs for some years now.  CFL’s don’t require you needing to install different sockets, they plug straight into incandescent light fittings.

Initially my attraction to Compact Fluorescent Lamps was due to the greatly extended life of the globe and saving on electricity; but the latter reason became increasingly important because of the connection between electricity consumption and global warming.

Prices for CFL’s have certainly dropped over the years; making them an even better choice. The first Compact Fluorescent Lamp bulb I bought was around $20, but these days the same globe can be purchased for only $5.

While $5 is still more expensive than an incandescent light globe, given that they’ll last 8 -10 times longer, there’s now a saving just in the purchase.

The big saving comes from CFL’s consuming far less electricity. A 100 watt rated incandescent uses 100 watts of electricity per hour, whereas a 25 watt compact fluorescent globe that generates the equivalent amount of light uses just a quarter of the energy.

Here’s a breakdown of the savings:

100 watt incandescent running 6 hours a day = 600 watts

1 kilowatt of electricity costs around 10 cents depending on where you live; so that equals 6 cents a day.

365 x 6c = $21.90

The equivalent electricity for a compact fluorescent lamp of similar brightness would cost around $5.47 for a year – a saving of over $15 per year by replacing one incandescent globe.

It may not sound like a huge amount to save, but if you take into consideration how many lights you have in your home or business and add up the total number of hours a day they are run, your savings could run into hundreds or in the case of a business; thousands of dollars a year.

Equally as important a consideration is if your power is sourced via coal fired electricity generation. Using the example above; the power used by a single incandescent globe over a year would be responsible for the production of over 100 pounds of carbon. Using a compact fluorescent lamp would cut that down by around 75%.

Some opponents to CFL’s have mentioned the mercury the bulbs contain being a problem; but it’s my understanding that:

a) There’s not enough mercury in a CFL globe to pose a serious hazard if a single bulb should be accidentally broken. While the mercury can pose a hazard if masses of bulbs are dumped together in a landfill environment, the globes can be safely disposed of at many recycling facilities – the CFL’s are then shipped to companies that can safely extract the mercury for reuse.

b) If your electricity supply comes from coal power; the mercury released directly into the atmosphere to generate the power for an 100 watt incandescent globe over a few years far exceeds the level of mercury released by powering a comparative 25 watt CFL during the same period; and that also takes into consideration the amount of mercury contained in the lamp.

Bearing in mind that living a greener lifestyle isn’t just about choices of products but also level of consumption; if you’re going to make the switch to CFL’s also review your lighting needs.

When I first moved into my office, it had around 180 watts worth of incandescent globes installed in a triple bulb light fixture. Through switching to CFL’s, trimming down the amount of brightness I really needed in the office and positioning my desk correctly; I’ve got that down to 10 watts – 2 x 5 watt globes.

CFL’s alone will not save the world from global warming related climate change, but it’s a small easy step that many of us can make to help reduce environmental impact and carbon emissions; and also another great way to save money on your electricity bill!