Save Electricity and Money with CFLs

CFLs are those new, small fluorescent light bulbs that screw into most regular light fixtures. You can use them to replace regular (incandescent) bulbs to save money and electricity. I’m an electrician in the Beverly Hills where our Department of Water and Power gets over 60% of its electricity from fossil fuels, especially coal. That’s slightly below the U.S. average — 65% of electricity from fossil fuels. So, any time you replace a regular incandescent bulb with a CFL, it’s one small step towards reducing fossil fuel use.

CFLs come in all different shapes, but basically they’re a small fluorescent tube bent this way and that or twisted into a spiral. They remind me of a soft ice cream cone. “CFL” stands for “Compact Fluorescent Lamp.” They’re more compact than the long fluorescent tubes of our childhoods. They’re lamps, which is electrician-speak for “light bulb.”

And they’re green — they save 75% of the energy that traditional incandescents use. Another way to say it is that CFLs creates the same amount of light with 25% of the electricity of a regular bulb.

CFLs Save Money and Electricity

Though they cost more than a regular incandescent, they last a lot longer — 13 times longer. So even though each CFL costs more per bulb (about $4 for a CFL), they will also save you about $4 per bulb as you won’t have to replace them so often.

Your electric bill will show more significant savings. Lighting costs about $20 out of $100 monthly electric bill. Because CFLs use one-quarter of the electricity of a regular incandescent, if you replace all the bulbs in your house with CFLs, you’ll save about $15 each month on a $100 electric bill.

A Cold Fluorescent Light?

CFLs are green, but not blue. Many people dislike the eerie bluish light of the old-fashioned long fluorescent tubes. CFLs can create all different colors of light, including warm tones. A recent study by the magazine Popular Mechanics found that when people didn’t know which type of bulb was involved, they preferred the light of the CFL over the light from incandescent bulbs. CFLs also don’t buzz as the long tubes did.

The Mercury Downside

CFLs have one downside — they each contain a small amount of mercury, which is a toxin. If a bulb breaks, you’ll need to take care to clean every bit up and to not touch the pieces. You’ll need to recycle spent bulbs or dispose of them as you would paint or other hazardous waste. However, they’re so long-lasting that this will come up on the order of years, rather than months.

The First Step to Saving Money and Energy

OK, now that you have a basic understanding of CFLs, how can you do something simple to save money and energy? The next time you go to the store, pick up a four-pack of CFLs. Choose four lights in your home or business that you use often and replace the incandescent bulbs with your new CFLs. In my home, I unscrewed the light bulbs in our outdoor flood lights and screwed in CFLs. Pick up a four-pack of CFLs and help America cut down on fossil fuels while saving on your electric bill.

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Summary: CFLs are those new, small fluorescent light bulbs that screw into most regular light fixtures. You can buy ones that cast a pleasant warm light and use them to replace regular (incandescent) bulbs throughout your home or business to save money and electricity. The average homeowner can save about 15% on their electric bill with CFLs and an additional amount on buying bulbs. Just take one simple step, and if you have any questions you can ask your electrician in Beverly Hills.


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