Four to One

“Turn the light off!”

My mother never said that, or hardly ever. She taught us kids  to turn off the lights and we just did it. It cost money you know. You don’t go around just wasting money or wasting anything for that matter. I learned that from my grandfather.

13 W vs. 60 W

The brightness of a 13 watt CFL light bulb is equal to that of a 60 watt incandescent bulb. Another way to state this would be that in comparison  there is a 75% reduction in consumption of watts. I tend to see it as having a lamp on in every room of the house plus a couple of night lights burning. That’s foolish. The energy used for one older incandescent bulb could power four CFL bulbs (plus a couple night lights). Four to one.

CFL bulbs have had a fair amount of controversy whether they are helpful  or hazardous to the environment. There are legitimate concerns about the trace amounts of mercury and exposure from broken bulbs. Recycling programs are insufficient and some manufactures have had deficient merchandise. Energy policy legislation signed by Geo. W. Bush concerning bulbs goes into effect 2012. When I tally up the negative and the positive impact I’m still in favor of the CFL about four to one. Overall I see it as a net gain. Besides CFLs are a temporary solution that will not hold reign for a hundred years as its predecessor the incandescent bulbs. New technology and innovation with LED lighting will surpass the application of CFL bulbs in the near future relegating CFLs to a niche of use.

In a debate this argument is for:

  • Incandescent bulbs last 500 – 2,000 hrs, compact fluorescent bulbs 8,000 -10,000 hrs.
  • CFLs generate 70% less heat and are safe to operate.
  • Average household savings  $36.00 per life of bulb.
  • According to the federal government, if every American home replaced just one bulb enough energy would be saved that there would be enough to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gas emissions of 800,000 cars.
  • Thermostats in older homes and mercury fever thermometers contain 500 to 3,ooo milligrams of mercury, the compact fluorescent bulb has no more than 5 milligrams.
  • Reduce energy demand from coal fired  power stations which are a major source (40%) of mercury pollution in the atmosphere.

Compact florescent is an alternative that is best used for specific locations. It has been just one step in a process. There are new innovations and products  that will give us many more lighting choices coming soon. LED lights have made tremendous advances in just the past two years and are appearing on store shelves now. The argument against CFLs is almost moot.

About earthstonestation

promoting environmental education, protecting all species and preserving the wild places with art, music and storytelling.
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12 Responses to Four to One

  1. pjoe says:

    Agree that CFLs get a bad rap..
    But also, in my view, wrong to ban incandescents
    All lighting has advantages!
    The ban is simply to reduce energy and emissions.

    But light bulbs don’t burn coal or release CO2 gas.
    Power plants might.
    If there is a problem – deal with the problem.

    Besides, US energy savings from a switchover are seemingly only a fraction of 1%,
    on US Dept of Energy stats and surveys, referenced on a website
    also describing more relevant electricity generation, grid savings and home
    consumption savings.

    And energy saving is not the ONLY reason for choosing a light bulb to use!
    As said, all lighting has advantages
    (and the replacement incandescents like Halogens have a different light quality and run hotter, apart from costing much more, and will apparently also be banned sometime after 2014 on the EISA 45 lumen per Watt specifications)

  2. As this post states, CFLs do contain mercury, but they are a better solution, both economically and environmentally, than incandescent bulbs, which ultimately result in greater mercury exposure than CFLs, because they consume more power and require more power generation. Since mercury is a byproduct of burning coal, coal-fired power plants are a larger source of mercury pollution than the mercury content in the CFLs. Although CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury, with a proven packaging configuration and proper disposal, CFLs can be used effectively without releasing harmful mercury vapor.

    While a variety of containers are marketed for transportation of fluorescent lamps and CFLs, many don’t provide sufficient protection against mercury vapor emitted from broken lamps. Using a proven packaging design is vital to ensuring the safety of people who handle these lamps, as well as maintaining their green benefits. Read about a recent study that tested several packaging configurations here: If a bulb breaks, consumers can learn more about clean-up procedures here:

  3. What a great article! So informative. We’ve switched almost all the lightbulbs, except the few rooms we don’t use and don’t turn on the lights in.

  4. Candy says:

    There are downsides to the CFL. Lighting is awful, bulbs do not fit many older lamps & chandeliers and I not about to replace them and fitting a lampshade is truly awkward. Many do not last nearly as long as predicted and I’ve replaced several that did not make it even to the life of traditional bulbs. Disposal is scary.
    I have to say that almost every light in the house has been replaced with the CFLs though, especially since my town-owned electric company sends them for free. I am trying. What I see, though, is that once many folks replace their lamps etc., the LEDs will finally get their kinks out and become the next replacement. So off people go to buy new lamps, fixtures and bulbs.
    Tis a quandry.

  5. The one thing I don’t like about incandecent bulbs is that they take time to WARM up. However, I have ONE that is a pure WHITE instead of a warm antique white that doesn’t need time to warm up. I really have to check out that source.

  6. jpgreenword says:

    I find it funny that no one ever complains (or complained) about the long fluorescent bulbs that have lit up most work places and malls and schools for “god-knows” how long.
    Mercury is dangerous and exposure should be avoided. But, how often is an individual exposed to to a broken CFL (or other fluorescent) bulb? I’m 32 (33 next week!!!) and it’s happened to me once. Since my teenage years, my work place has almost always had fluorescent bulbs (which I often had to replace) and I’ve have CFLs in my home for years.

  7. winsomebella says:

    Important info–thanks!

  8. Simply Tim says:

    Besides, they just look … COOL! lol

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