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CFLs: The Good and The Bad

Compact florescent lamps (CFLs) are known to be the energy-saving light. While these lights use a little bit more energy when first turned on, CFLs use about 70% less energy than the traditional incandescent light bulb once the electricity starts moving. However, as with any product, there are drawbacks as well as benefits. So are CFLs worth the small investment? Let’s weigh the pros and the cons . . .

Compact Florescent Lamp Pros

  • Once plugged in, CFLs do save more than half the energy than incandescent light bulbs. The bulbs also produce about 75 percent less heat than incandescent bulbs, not only making them more environmentally sound, but safer as well.
  • While CFLs are a little costly to buy upfront, the bulbs save users about $40 per month in electricity costs over the span of the bulb’s lifetime. So, a $4 charge for the bulb is nothing compared to the hefty monthly savings.
  • One bulb can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds of pounds.
  • CFLs give off a large amount of light. People don’t often realize that a 23-watt CFL can give the equivalent of 100 watts in light output without exceeding the maximum wattage in a lamp.

Compact Florescent Lamp Cons

  • Studies have shown that CFLs can often dim quickly over the course of its lifespan. These bulbs may save energy, but it’s best to buy them in bulk in case they begin to dim sooner than expected.
  • CFLs contain small amounts of toxic mercury, about 4-5 mg. This toxin can be harmful to both humans and the environment if the bulbs are not disposed of properly.
  • Sometimes, the bulbs need a few minutes to “warm up” and reach full light potential.
  • CFLs do not work well with a dimming switch.
  • This type of light is meant to be switched “on” for long periods of time. Turning a CFL on and off frequently can reduce its lifespan significantly. 

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