Going Green with Light Bulbs



Being a born-again hippie, I can’t let Earth Day pass without saying a few words about going green. Earth Day began in 1970 as a way to recognize that we have a responsibility to at least know what our impact on our earth is. One of the most highly touted ways to “save energy” and “go green” today is the replacement of incandescent lightbulbs with compact florescent bulbs (CFLs).

My distaste for these bulbs is fairly well-known. But manufacturers of CFLs have been listening to the complaints of users like me, and have been making changes. I am glad to see that they are listening to us, rather than taking the stand that we will all have to use them at some point and the users rights didn’t matter.

One of my complaints is the inaccurate color of CFLs. They are orange, green, blue, anything but the warm light of an incandescent. The other problem is that CFLs don’t always fit into places I need them, like lamps in the living room or ceiling fixtures in the kitchen, because they are slightly larger than standard incandescents. And then there is the issue of how slowly the CFLs turn on and brighten up. Sylvania is addressing all three of these issues with their new micro-mini Twist bulb. They are standard incandescent length and width, turn on instantly, and burn at a lower temperature, eliminating the “blue” light of most CFLs. As a bonus, these new bulbs contain only 1.5 milligrams of mercury, instead of the usual 3 to 5 milligrams. Of course with all the “new features” of this bulb come some disadvantages; the price of the micro-mini sells for $10 a bulb, about three times the price of a standard CFL.

I also worry about what to do about fixtures that have a “bare bulb.” The CFLs are not attractive, and for vanity fixtures, they will be pretty ugly. GE Consumer and Industrial will be releasing a CFL that looks exactly like a standard incandescent bulb, right down to the size. GE also boasts that the light output of this incandescent look-alike will match current incandescents, which should provide the kind of light we are expecting from a bulb. The price on these bulbs is about $5, only a dollar or so more than the CFLs we are buying now.

Philips Lighting doesn’t want to be left out of the green movement, either. They have developed a three-way CFL that turns on instantly and gives three distinct bands of light. According to Philips, the bulbs will not deteriorate into a single color over time, like current three-way CFLs tend to do. Prices for these new bulbs is about $10, not too much higher than existing bulbs on the market.

With these changes, I am more inclined to try CFLs in more places in my house. We are transitioning, but slowly, as some applications of CFL just are not appropriate, like the clear-bulb vanity light bar in our bathroom. That one will probably have to morph over to halogen bulbs when the time comes.

What are your experiences with CFLs? What are your concerns?


One thought on “Going Green with Light Bulbs

  1. Well, I have used CFLs since 2000 and let me say that I have saved some money and in my case I appreciate the illumination that provide to my room and my study.

    But you’re right, not all the places are good for this CFLs and not all the lamps on my house are prepared for those.

    A disadvantage is the cost compared with incandescent lightbulbs cheaper price, but don’t forget that lightbulbs are more fragil, so when you replace a CFL you had replaced at last 4, 5 lightbulbs.

    Well that’s my experience.

    See you soon.

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