Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) may cost more than incandescent bulbs, but their benefits are worth the cost. Since CFLs use one-quarter the electricity of a regular incandescent light bulb, they cost less over the lifetime of the bulb and produce less environmental pollution. Maximize these benefits by eliminating your incandescent bulbs and using CFLs correctly.
Turn Off Lights
As with any type of light bulb, CFLs use less energy when turned off. So, avoid leaving them turned when you leave the room, even though they consume less energy than incandescent bulbs. One exception is when you need the light for less than 15 minutes. According to Energy Star, turning off a CFL after less than 15 minutes damages the bulb, requiring you to replace it sooner.
Replace All Light Bulbs
While CFLs are relatively expensive at the time of publication, they also last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. This, coupled with your energy savings for switching to CFLs, outweighs the upfront cost of buying new bulbs. Replace all the bulbs in your house with CFLs to avoid the unnecessary electricity usage from incandescent bulbs. Doing so also eliminates the excess heat incandescent bulbs produce, reducing your need for air conditioning.
Use Appropriate Wattage
CFLs use a fraction of the wattage of incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light. For instance, a CFL that uses 30 watts of electricity can produce light equivalent to that of a 75-watt incandescent bulb. Rather than using a CFL with the same wattage as the incandescent bulb the light fixture is made for, choose a CFL with the equivalent brightness, which is expressed on the CFL bulb packaging in lumens. A CFL that actually uses 75 watts, for example, shines with the same number of lumens as an incandescent bulb that uses more than 200 watts. Most likely, you don't need that much light anywhere in your home.
Recycle your CFLs rather than throwing them away, to prevent them from being crushed in the garbage. Crushed CFLs emit mercury, which is harmful to your health and the environment. Contact local recycling centers to find out which accept CFLs.