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Lighting: Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)

Flip the switch on energy efficiency

Lighting can be one of the most simple and cost-effective ways to reduce energy consumption and energy costs. There is a wide variety of energy efficient lighting options for your home or business. Keep reading to learn more.

Lighting for your home  ENERGY STAR logo

Save money with ENERGY STAR® qualified bulbs Compact fluorescent bulbs are specially designed to produce a warm, even light. There are many styles to choose from to fit in almost any fixture in your home, including special applications like globes, 3-way, dimmable and more. ENERGY STAR qualified bulbs:

  • Can save more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime.
  • Uses about 75% less energy and typically last 6 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs.
  • Produces about 75% less heat, so it's safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling.

Wondering which bulb is best for you? Use this equivalency chart to help you out! 

Operating Cost Comparison

Incandescent bulb Compact Fluorescent Lifetime Savings
40W 9 - 11W $16 - $27
60W 13 - 17W $27 - $32
75WW 18 - 20W $38 - $43
100WW 23 - 26W $49 - $54
150WW 32 - 42W $76 - $87
*Savings are based on 6,000 hour bulb lifetime, burning 3 hours/day at 0.12 cents per kWh.

CFLs are NOT hazardous.

Mercury Content of CFL's vs. Other Common Household Products
Product Amount of Mercury Number of Equivalent CFL's
Compact Flourescent Bulb An Average of 5 milligrams 1
Watch Battery 25 milligrams 5
Dental Amalgams 500 milligrams 100
Home Thermometer 500 mg - 2 grams 100-400
Float Switch in Sump Pumps 2 grams 400
Tilt Thermostat 3 grams 600

The bulbs don't emit mercury when they're intact, in use, and properly stored or handled—possessing no harm to consumers. Compact fluorescent lights do contain trace amounts (an average of 5 mg) of mercury vapor -- it's what makes the bulbs energy efficient -- an amount the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

What many people don't realize is that the largest source of mercury in our air actually comes from burning coal to produce electricity. Unfortunately, the standard incandescent bulb uses much more electricity than a CFL, which means—using incandescent bulbs actually causes more mercury pollution than a CFL, even when you take into account the mercury in the bulb.

By comparison, some watch batteries contain 25 mg of mercury and many manual thermostats contain up to 3,000 mg. (See chart above.)

What do you do if a CFL breaks? If a CFL breaks, take care in cleaning up. Even though the amount of mercury is very small, EPA recommends taking precautionary steps. For more information on these steps and mercury in general, visit www.energystar.gov/cflsandmercury.

Always Dispose of Your CFL Properly As energy-efficient lighting becomes more popular, it is important that we dispose of the products safely and responsibly. Proper recycling ensures the benefits of CFLs while properly managing the disadvantages. Learn how and where to recycle them

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