Compact Fluorescent Lamps or LED lamps
Switching to CFLs
Switching from traditional light bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) or LED (Light-Emiting Diode) lamps is an effective, accessible change we all can make right now to reduce energy use at home and prevent greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
Lighting is responsible for close to 20 percent of the average home’s electric bill. ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs use up to 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs; LED bulbs use even less. If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL or LED, in one year it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of more than 800,000 cars.
Moreover, compared to incandescent lamps of the same perceived power, CFLs and LEDs use less energy and have a longer rated life--up to ten times longer than incandescent lamps. In the United States, a CFL can save more than $30 in electricity costs over the lamp's lifetime compared to an incandescent lamp. CFLs and LEDs, though more costly to purchase, provide a quick return on your lighting investment by lasting longer and saving energy.
CFLs radiate a different light spectrum from that of incandescent lamps, but product improvements have created a subjective color of “soft white” light that seem similar to the color in standard incandescent lamps. Other product improvements include "quick on" features so you don't have to wait for them to warm up to their highest brightness, dimmable capabilities to create mood lighting, and globe covers to conceal the curly-cue appearance. LED lamps achieve full light almost instantly, and are avaialble in variety of intensities and light colors.
The Mercury Connection
CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing – an average of 5 milligrams, which is about the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen, or one percent of the mercury in an older thermometer.
Mercury is a necessary component of CFL’s, and it is mercury that allows the bulb to be an efficient light source. No mercury is released when the bulbs are intact or in use, and manufacturers are continuing to find ways to reduce the average amount of mercury in these bulbs.
Like other fluorescent bulbs, consumers should take advantage of local disposal and recycling options. If a CFL breaks, it should be disposed of as any other fluorescent light. CFL’s should be recycled because of their mercury content. They do not belong in the trash. Fluorescent bulbs of all kinds can be dropped off at the Sherborn Transfer Station.
For information on cleaning up a broken fluorescent bulb, open a window immediately and check these instructions for safe clean-up.
Note: - Many people are now switching to LED bulbs (for the same good reasons listed below for CFL lamps); LEDs are more expensive to buy, but use far less power than even CFL lamps. While they don't usually contain mercury, spent LED lamps must still be disposed of separately from your trash - but they should be placed in the Electronics container, NOT the mercury shed (where CFL bulbs should be placed). Each LED lamp is equipped with a small electronic circuit board that needs to be responsibly recycled, like any other electronic device, to recover any hazardous or valuable materials.