There are so many ways to reduce one’s energy usage it can often be baffling on where to start. Upgrade the windows and doors? Re-do insulation? Have a high efficiency y furnace installed? They are all great ideas, but there is one solution that is much simpler and much cheaper. Replace light bulbs with CFL’s.
The CFL, or Compact Fluorescent Lamp, operates under the same premise as the long tube-style lights commercial buildings have been using for years. The difference is they are compacted, and able to fit into an ordinary light socket. The premise is that a fluorescent bulb will use fewer watts to operate, and last longer than their incandescent counterparts. While they are a little more expensive to buy, in the long run those who use CFL’s will save quite a bit of money off their energy bill.
In the late 1800’s Peter Cooper Hewitt developed a light bulb that ran on mercury vapor. The resulting patent in 1901 brought about the first fluorescent lamp. Since then the technology has not changed much in operation, just shape. In the 1930’s a fluorescent bulb that was curved, rather than straight, came about, and in the 1970’s the helical (spiral) bulb was developed. This shape is still used today, in 1995 they became commercially available for the first time.
As the bulbs become more and more mass produced, the cost continues to go down. This means consumers can see more savings on their energy bill, for less money up front. The fluorescent bulb will produce the same amount of light on approximately one fifth the amount of energy. But that is not the only benefit of these great light bulbs. They will not emit as much heat as an incandescent and fall less than a halogen bulb, and they will last at least six times as long. This means over the life of the bulb, the user will save over $40 per bulb (energystar.gov). Replacing every bulb in the house means significantly more savings, in fact when I replaced all the bulbs in my house (I found a deal where the bulbs were discounted to $1 each) I noticed an immediate savings of $15-$20 off my electric bill each month.
The bulbs are not hard to find, they are at every home goods store, hardware store, and multiple retailers online. While some may argue that a name brand bulb will last longer and operate more efficiently, they will pay a premium for the name. The bulbs are just as easy to install as an incandescent, taking only a matter of seconds. When they finally do burn out, remember to take them to a local hardware store to be recycled. They do contain trace amounts of mercury, so pitching them in the garbage is not wise for everyone’s personal health safety.