CFL Light Bulbs – The Good, The Bad, The Environmentally-Ugly

People are looking for newer and cheaper ways to keep their home illuminated, and CFL light bulbs are one of the options that are setting the charts ablaze (pun totally intended). But are these new revolutionary lights really benefitting you? Are they the right fit for your home? or your environment? Below we give our most thorough attempt at answering these questions.

What are CFL Light Bulbs?

CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights) are a type of fluorescent lamp designed to replace incandescent lights. In CFLs, electricity cycles through a spiral-shaped tube containing argon and mercury vapor. An electric current travels through the vapors, causing an excitation in the gas molecules. CFL Light bulbs have been on the market since the mid-1980s are highly preferred by customers due to their varying benefits.

The Good

CFLs are energy-efficient, using 75% less energy than regular light bulbs. CFLs also have a longer lifespan than the average light bulb. While incandescents typically last from 750 to 1000 hours, CFLs can last up to 15, 000 hours. Due to the fact that they use 70% less energy than regular light bulbs,compact fluorescents are typically cheaper and cost as little as $76 a year in operating costs. Lastly, next to LED light bulbs, CFLs emit the least amount of heat, which can lower your air conditioning bill significantly.

The Bad

CFLs are not entirely flawless. It takes a little while for CFLs to reach full illumination (it may take up to two minutes to become bright). CFLs tend to burn out faster when used with an illuminated wall switch. Depending on the brand of CFL you purchase, the bulb may burn out rather quickly (be sure to buy one with a warranty).

The Environmentally-Ugly

CFL light bulbs contain a highly toxic chemical known as Mercury within their glass covers. Then why do they not discontinue production you ask? Well, it turns out that compact fluorescent light bulbs cannot ignite electricity without Mercury. Mercury is the key to converting electrical energy to radiant energy. The Mercury vapors create ultraviolet light which transitions into visible light when it strikes the fluorescent compound withheld inside the CFL light bulb.

Older CFL models carry a larger amount of Mercury, however, overtime CFL manufacturers have decreased the amount of Mercury in CFLs significantly, but it is still considered hazardous when the bulb a dropped and broken.

Don’t know how to clean up a broken CFL light bulb? Follow these guidelines by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.