Monday, November 9, 2009

CFLs are here to stay!


Hi folks – writing a new post after a month. The old tungsten filament bulbs will soon be obsolete as the compact fluorescent lamps(CFLs) are here to stay. World over we have seen a rapid change of normal light bulbs to CFLs.  This is a good change since we are talking about energy and money savings. To most people talking in terms of reductions in CO2 emissions do not make sense. What makes sense is talking in terms of savings in terms of money.

A CFL bulb uses up to 75% less energy than old fashioned bulbs. Every bulb changed means reduced demand for electricity which means lesser CO2 emissions, lower pollution, lower costs. That means cleaner healthier air, environmental and public health benefits. Each CFL lasts about 7 years. If every household in America replaced just one light bulb with Energy Star – qualified CFL, the reduction in CO2 emissions would be like taking 800,000 cars off American roads( Through the ambitious Project Porchlight’s endeavors this could be a reality.

I first saw these bulbs in IKEA London way back in 2000. My small studio apartment in London had only a three light fixtures. I changed them all. Electricity is costly in UK. My monthly energy bill plummeted drastically due to use of CFLs.  When I came to US and saw the wasteful light fixtures I was a bit amazed! Land of plenty it is! Also the fact that electricity is cheap in US as compared to Europe or Asia – makes people residing here less inclined to make any changes in this regard. But all this is changing slowly yet steadily. So CFLs have made way into our homes and are lighting up are lives.

Excited about the wonders of the new light many of us would not know what to do with the CFL after it is spent. Many of the fixtures we use today such as fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps contain mercury and ballasts that contain PCB can be hazardous. Due to the trace amount of mercury the end of the life safe disposal is of concern. What happens to your old lighting fixtures when you buy new ones? They are probably trashed but it might not be the correct way of disposing of them. There are federal regulations on the disposal of ballasts and lamps in US and EU.

LAMPS: Mercury is a very deadly element when in contact at very high levels. All fluorescent and High-intensity discharge (HID) lamps contain small amounts of mercury. This amount may not affect your health but still needs to be disposed of correctly so the mercury will not accumulate. Just to be on the safe side it is better to consider all lamping waste to be hazardous.

This means that they have to be recycled or taken to a hazardous waste landfill. When these lamps are recycled they are smashed and the mercury is taken out; then the other parts of the lamp are reused.

There are some new developments in lamps that have lower mercury content that are approved by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and is safe to dispose of as solid waste but regulations in each state are different so be sure to check.

BALLASTS: If your old ballasts does not have a label stating "NO PCBs" then it does not contain PCB. Prior to 1979 all ballasts made in the U.S. contained PCBs.

If there's a Home Depot store in your city or town, you can simply drop your used CFL bulbs off at the store for safe recycling, free of charge.

Also check out for the same.

For more information about compact fluorescent bulbs, visit

For more information about compact fluorescent bulbs and mercury, visit

So much for now, till the next post CIAO!


  1. You are so wrong, please and quite ignorant I am sorry to say. I abhor the thought of such lies continuing to run rampant. Good on you that you save money and your personal CO2 emissions without a care to the world. Oh by the way your figutes are wrong you should read the guarantee on the box of bulb they now last only 2 years and the less mercury in them the shorter their life span but unfortunately this does nothing for their embodied energy that will kill of the earth one third faster than incandescents and even more if incandescents were run on renewable energy. No one has really checked into where or why these are only made in China and South Korea by Coal fire plants and not in the countries promoting them. But I asked the question WHY?

  2. everyone should complete this form and find out for themselves the difference between personal and environmental impact by CFLs alone.

  3. One can discuss any issue without getting personal I guess. Thanks for bringing the issue of lesser lifespan of CFLs out. All aspects of anything new definitely needs to be discussed and debated.

  4. @enviroimapact - I did not quite understand the point you are trying to make!
    The literatures avaiable on the subject (may be they are not completely true) say something else.
    Ofcourse there are 2 sides to every coin. That doesnt mean you should not do your stuff the way you feel might make a different.
    A small scale good may be have an adverse effect at a larger scale and vice-versa, but tell me which action of man doesnt?

  5. @A Greener You: Thanks for the great posting!

    @enviroimpact: Thanks for your comments. However, much of the information you shared is incorrect and your concerns are misplaced.

    One Change is the non-profit, non-partisan organization behind the award-winning energy-efficiency campaign Project Porchlight. To date, we have distributed close to 3 million CFL bulbs to residents in the US and Canada at no cost, helping them reduce their energy use, save money, and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    One Change only distributes CFL bulbs tested and certified by both ENERGY STAR and Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and they come with a warranty of at least 5 years--it says so right on the box. In fact, CFL bulbs use 75% less energy than old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs and last 10 times longer.

    Contrary to what you imply, CFL bulbs actually provide us with an opportunity to reduce the amount of mercury released into the environment versus incandescent light bulbs. Because they use less energy and the minute amount of mercury contained in CFL bulbs is recyclable, life-cycle analyses (looking at assembly, operation, and disposal) consistently show that using CFL bulbs instead of an equivalent number of incandescent light bulbs reduces the amount of mercury released into the environment by more than 70%!

    Check out independent studies comparing CFL bulbs and incandescent light bulbs, like this one by the Rocky Mountain Institute:

    We welcome your questions, comments, and feedback. Please visit us at

    Simple actions matter.


I would be interested to know your views on this blog.