Replacing energy-hogging incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving fluorescents (CFLs) is a simple, effective way to slow the rate of global climate change while saving money. It's good for the environment, it's economical, it's efficient, and it's easy.
Compared to general service incandescent lamps giving the same amount of visible light, CFL's use less power and have a longer rated life. In the United States, a CFL has a higher purchase price than an incandescent lamp, but can save over US$40 in electricity costs over the lamp's lifetime.
The average rated life of a CFL is between 8 and 15 times that of an incandescent. CFL's typically have a rated lifespan of between 6,000 and 15,000 hours, whereas incandescent lamps are usually manufactured to have a lifespan of 750 hours or 1,000 hours.
Incandescent light bulbs reach full brightness a fraction of a second after being switched on. CFLs turn on within a second, but many still take time to warm up to full brightness. The light color may be slightly different immediately after being turned on. Some CFL's are marketed as "instant on" and have no noticeable warm-up period, but others can take up to a minute to reach full brightness, or longer in very cold temperatures. This and the shorter life of CFLs when turned on and off for short periods may make CFL's less suitable for applications such as motion-activated lighting.
CFL's, like all fluorescent lamps, contain small amounts of mercury as vapor inside the glass tubing. Most CFL's contain 3–5 mg per bulb, with the eco-friendly bulbs containing as little as 1 mg. Because mercury is poisonous, even these small amounts are a concern for landfills and waste incinerators where the mercury from lamps may be released and contribute to air and water pollution.
Ironically, a regular incandescent light bulb actually releases much more mercury into the environment than a CFL. CFLs prevent mercury from entering our air, where it most affects our health by reducing energy demand at the power plant. The highest source of mercury in our air comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal, the most common fuel used to produce electricity. A CFL uses up to 75% less energy than an incandescent light bulb and lasts up to 8 to 15 times longer. A power plant will emit 10mg of mercury to produce the electricity to run an incandescent bulb compared to only 2.4mg of mercury to run a CFL for the same time.
Before this post I have replaced most of the incandescent light bulbs in my house with CFLs. Besides from the startup time, which takes a little bit of getting used compared to the instant gratification of flicking a switch and then there is light. I am very happy with the choice to switch and have been using them for over 3 years now. I will recommend when buying CLFs that you look at the color temperature of the bulb. A bulb with a color temperature of 2700 will emit a nice warm colored light, similar to that of an incandescent bulb. One with a color temperature of 5000+ usually labeled as Daylight emits a very white blueish color. I have found the ones with a color temperature in 3000 range not very appealing, at least to me and emit a cold light.
Jamie Starling Photography