Energy Star Compact Fluorescent Lights (or CFL's) is the rage and has been all over the news in recent years due to their energy efficient (and money saving) qualities. Not only do these lightbulbs use less energy, they produce less heat which helps save energy in regards to cooling costs as well; this also helps prolong the life of the bulb. Compact fluorescent bulbs use about one-quarter of the energy an incandescent bulb does in order to produce the same amount of light. Lower wattage equals less energy consumption and heat output, which is better for your wallet as a homeowner and consumer, and also is earth-friendly! It's a two-for-one good deal!
Now that we have discussed what CFLs are all about, lets talk about choosing the proper bulbs for specific lighting fixtures. CFL packaging often has a wattage conversion to help the consumer purchase the bulb they are looking for in comparison with an average incandescent bulb. If you'd like to know what you're buying before you hit the store, check out this neat interactive Energy Star Choose A Light Guide.
You could also purchase an Energy Star Lighting Fixture which is made especially for the CFL bulbs. These specially made fixtures that carry the Energy Star logo distribute light more evenly than a regular fixture. They also prolong the life of the bulb longer than it would last in a regular fixture (about 7 years of regular use). That's a long time! The fixtures carry a two-year warranty and are available at most home centers. Nice upgrade for any home.
Earning an Energy Star means that the product meets the requirements of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Make sure your product has the blue and white star (shown above) before purchasing, or else you could be putting yourself and your family in danger. As with most products on the market these days, there are phony producers and phony products, so be careful! Without the presence of the Energy Star on the package, you may be buying a faulty bulb with more mercury than the average CFL and other harmful properties. So make sure if you buy them online you are purchasing from a trusted source. Another thing to remember is that compact fluorescent bulbs contain trace amounts of mercury, so when they burn out they need to be disposed of properly to prevent environmental damage. You can dispose of them at locations which recycle the bulbs, or throw it away in your trash sealed in a plastic bag.
The differences in the way the CFL bulbs work is slightly different than the average incandescent bulb. So be aware that the start-up time of a compact fluorescent bulb can be slower than an incandescent bulb, even though the color and brightness are similar. CFLs can also cause an interference with devices such as radios and computers in the same are. If this does occur in your home, simply move the lamp or the electronic devices away from each other to decrease the interference.
The price of energy efficient bulbs has gone down in the past few years and they are now availble from about $2-$15 depending on size and type. You can find these bulbs at your local harware store, as well as places like Walmart and Target. Knowing the environment is better off, while saving you money, what more could you ask for from a bulb?! To find out more about CFLs visit the U.S. Government's Energy Star website.