Green Tip 5 - Light up Your Life Safely and for Less Money


Most people have either heard about or seen a CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb). The most noticeable ones have a funny curly cue design. With energy costs souring and with global warming, it is important to take steps towards replacing your incandescent light bulbs with CFLs.

CFLs last ten times longer and use one-fourth as much energy as incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are inefficient because they give off 90% of their energy in heat while CFLs give off little heat. A CFL bulb does cost a little bit more, but will save you $30 or more over its lifetime.

Some sources recommend changing all of your bulbs over right away to start cutting your electric bill and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. If you can afford this option great. If you are on a really tight budget then make a plan to gradually change your bulbs. Some people might replace a bulb as it burns out. Others might set a goal to replace one per week. If you know someone who really could use the savings from having CFLs but they can't afford to buy one, think about purchasing one for them as a gift.

There are some important things to consider when purchasing CFLs.

1. They come in many shapes, sizes and styles such as A-shape, Globes, Decorative, Flood, Dimmable, 3-way, Floods & Spots. To learn about the various types and to purchase hard-to-find styles, visit the following web sites:,,,,,

2. There are various shades of white (measured in Kelvin). Most CFLs offer soft or white light, which enhances red, yellow and orange decor. They are also available in bright white, natural and daylight, which enhance blue, green and violet d cor.

3. Read the label to find the watt equivalency. For example a 40-Watt incandescent bulb would be a 9-13 Watt CFL bulb. Visit for a light output equivalency chart.

4. Read the label to find out where the bulb should be used. Visit to learn how to chose the right bulb for the right place.

5. Most photocells and timers are not designed to work with CFLs. Check with the manufacturer for compatibility.

6. When installing CFLs hold them by the base, not the glass tips (touching the glass tip can shorten the life).

7. It is important to recycle these light bulbs when they burn out (they have a tiny bit of mercury so proper disposal is very important). Visit for details. Also, shows how to recycle and sells pre-paid pick up. Home Depot recycles these bulbs as well. In some areas the Solid Waste District Authorities will accept these bulbs during Hazardous Household Waste Collection Days. Check with your local Solid Waste District.

Lighting accounts for about 20% of the average home's electric bill. Know that by making the CFL switch you will reduce your electric bill and you will be helping the environment. If each home in America replaced one bulb with an Energy Star CFL, it would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 800,000 cars. Now that's something to ponder.

Byline Bio:Gwen Corbett, owner of Bear's Den Cottages, Green Lodging
Helping Individuals and Businesses to Go Green