Articles » The Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb Effect

The Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb Effect

Tags: Remodeling, Green Design

Flip The CF Switch

If you're looking for a simple switch you can make to save a little bit on energy bills and get more out of your lighting, replacing the incandescent light bulbs around the house with their superior CF counterparts is an easy move to make and one that energy providers, the government, and environmentalists have been encouraging since at least 2001 despite their existence on the market for more than 25 years.

The cold hard facts are that by replacing just one incandescent light bulb in each American home with a certified CF light bulb, the amount of energy saved would light more than three million homes for a year saving $600 million and significantly reducing the amount of greenhouse gases produced.

Why are CF light bulbs so effective? Compact fluorescent lights use less energy and have a longer life span than incandescent bulbs and have also made great technological strides improving their light color and consistent lighting performance. Thanks to the combination of a gas-filled tube and an electronic ballast, CF light bulbs emit ultraviolet light which creates a phosphor coating inside the tube which then radiates visible light. Their efficient technology uses about 75 percent less energy than standard bulbs so by replacing a typical 75W bulb with a 20W CF bulb 1,300 lbs. of carbon can be saved.

Though CF bulbs have a higher initial price tag than incandescent, they can outlast an incandescent from anywhere between 5,000 and 14,000 hours saving plenty of money over the years on replacement bulbs. One energy aficionado's calculations predict that a single Litetronics 5W 300 lumen bulb that cost $10 will last for 96 years. With a bit more initial investment in more efficient light bulbs, estimations are that home owners could save anywhere from $400 to $1500 in light bulbs over the bulb's lifespan and up to $22 in energy usage per year. Understandably, it could be hard to justify replacing a perfectly good incandescent bulb with a new CF bulb so start with the rooms you light up the most to start seeing the effects of making the switch.

Early versions of the CF light bulbs were reminiscent of flickering, buzzing back room fluorescent fixtures with a harsh light output, but new technology and advances in energy efficiency have produced new CF bulbs that meet the silent and white light expectations of incandescent bulbs. There are also a range of sizes and light fixture adapters now available that allow replacing incandescent bulbs with CF to be a hassle-free process.

New technology will continue to make it easier to integrate efficient and sustainable products into the home, but it is the home owner's responsibility to make the green change. Switching out a few light bulbs is a good place to start.