Blake Snow

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Energy efficient lightbulbs: 3 things I learned after replacing my home with them

Credit: Blake Snow

Credit: Blake Snow

For energy saving reasons, I did a wholesale replacement of our incandescent lightbulbs this week. We’re now using compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) throughout the home (gasp!). Here’s what I think so far: 

  1. I’m encouraged by the energy claims. CFLs use 1/5 the energy of an incandescent equivalent. They cost $1.25 each on average, so a bit more than incandescents. But they also claim a lifespan which is supposedly 10X to 20X greater than incandescents, although everyone’s mileage seems to vary. I hope mine last upwards of a decade like some early CFL purchasers have claimed.
  2. I prefer GE, Ecosmart, and Great Value bulbs. I understand this guy raves about the “bright white” and “daylight” CFL variations for readability, but I’m an ambient lighting guy, so I exclusively reach for the warmth of “soft white” CFLs, which are very close to incandescent lighting. GE and Ecosmart (Home Depot) are the warmest bulbs I’ve found. Walmart Great Value are, too, which I believe are made by Ecosmart based on the casing.
  3. I botched my first clean up attempt. CFLs are much less fragile than incandescent glass, but I did break one a week ago and preceded to clean it up like I would an ordinary bulb. Oops. Turns out, I should have used caution, given the trace amounts of mercury contained in CFLs (1/100 the amount of a mercury thermometer.) It’s probably too late, but I’m gonna quarantine my vacuum now and duct tape the floor just in case. If you observe an abnormal amount of typos in this post, it’s probably the mild brain damage I may have suffered.

Although I also considered LED lights (which use half the energy of CFLs and light faster), everything I’ve read is they’re still not economically justified, since they cost twice as much as CFLs. That should change as prices drop, but for now I’m excited about my energy efficient and “soft white” lighting.