Sunday, November 14, 2010
Lightbulb Swap: Using CFLs
This week, EcoAction will be in Red Square for the EcoWeek light-bulb swap. Bring your incandescent light bulbs, and we’ll give you a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) for free!
The switch to CFLs is a quick, easy way to make a huge impact on the environment. According to Energy Star, CFLs use 75% less energy and last ten times longer than incandescent light bulbs. They also produce 75% less heat, which reduces the energy used for air-conditioning in buildings. CFLs will save you money, too. One CFL is a bit more expensive than one incandescent bulb, but because it lasts so much longer it can save you up to forty dollars over its lifetime. Imagine how much money could be saved by replacing all the bulbs in your home or workplace.
In the past, consumers have complained about a low humming noise that CFLs produced and about the quality and color of CFL price, but now most CFLs are silent and produce a high-quality, normal white light. The main concern that consumers have now is the mercury contained in CFLs. However, the amount of mercury in the bulbs is very small—according to the EPA, about four milligrams—and, there is no mercury exposure when the bulb is intact. The only danger arises when the bulb is broken, and the EPA has simple, clear instructions for cleaning up and disposing of a broken CFL.
Because of the mercury in the bulbs, CFLs also require special recycling. Luckily, CFL’s long lives mean that you won’t need to replace the bulbs very frequently. When you do need to dispose of a CFL, though, make sure to find the appropriate disposal site in your area. Earth911.com is an easy way to do this. You can also recycle the bulbs at certain hardware stores, like IKEA, Lowe’s, and Home Depot. Another benefit of CFLs is that almost all the glass and metal in them can be recycled.
Of course, using environmentally friendly lighting doesn’t make it any less important to be conservative about lighting in the first place. Even CFLs use energy, so the greenest thing to do is to use as little lighting as possible. Take advantage of natural light when you can—don’t turn on unnecessary lights in your room during the day. Also, make it a habit to turn off lights when you leave a room. This doesn’t apply only to your own dorm room or house—turn off the lights in public bathrooms when you leave, too, and in other public spaces where you’re the last one leaving. Be conscientious about your use of lighting, but when you do need light, use CFLs!
Posted by Madeline at 12:57 PM