As people become more interested in replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and other energy-efficient options, they also become more wary. Consumers have raised a number of questions and concerns regarding the operation, use and safety of CFLs. To help put some of these fears to rest, we have created a list of the top five myths about CFLs.
It takes more power to turn a CFL on than to leave it on all the time.
Reality: The initial start-up, or surge of electricity, only lasts for a millisecond. You’d use much more energy by keeping the light on. However, CFLs have an extremely low energy-draw while on, using about 75 percent less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb.
CFLs have dangerous levels of mercury in them.
Reality: CFLs contain mercury, but it is a very small amount – about five milligrams – sealed within the glass tube. This is equal to the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen. By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury. It would take 100 CFLs to equal that amount. More information is available on the EPA website.
However, it is up to us to recycle our spent light bulbs. As broken bulbs accumulate in landfills, it can result in mercury leaking into ground water. But just like other recyclables, light bulbs can be broken down and made into new materials. Batteries Plus is a leader in the recycling of spent light bulbs. Visit our recycling page for more information. You can also visit the Take it Back Now Network for a list of places that will recycle your CFLs.
CFLs are harmful to my health.
Reality: This perception dates back to when fluorescent lights first came into being in the 1940’s. Old fluorescent tubes gave off an unnatural and unpleasant bluish-green color and the ballasts were magnetic which caused the lights to flicker. Today’s fluorescent tubes and bulbs are vastly improved. They now show true colors and natural skin tones. Plus, flicker is totally eliminated with new electronic ballasts.
CFLs don’t save money because my heating system has to work harder to produce the lost heat I would have received from my regular incandescent.
Reality: The heat lost when switching from an incandescent to a CFL has only a minor effect on your heating system. The heat that comes from incandescent bulbs is inefficient, tends to hang up near the ceiling and has little effect on your thermostat. By producing about 75 percent less heat and energy, CFLs are safer to operate and will still cut overall energy costs.
The rated life of a CFL is how long I should expect mine to last.
Reality: When CFLs are tested, rated life is determined by the number of hours at which half the bulbs in the testing sample burnout. So rated life is actually an average, not the minimum life you can expect. Even under identical operating conditions, one may last longer and another shorter. It’s possible that out of the dozen or more CFLs you install in your home, some may not last the rated life and others may far outlast it. You can maximize the life of your CFL by limiting the frequency of turning it on and off, and using it in the appropriate application. Get more tips to extend the life of your CFL here.
Find a variety of incandescent and energy-efficient light bulbs, fixtures and accessories on our light bulb page.
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