Compact fluorescents vs. regular lightbulbs - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 28 Old 03-22-2010, 07:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I keep hearing the compact fluorescents are the way to go - IF they are going to be on for a minimum of five minutes. Well, people in our family are sometimes really good at only having a light on for as long as they need it on. They turn on the bathroom light, pee, and it's turned off again in two minutes or less. Other times they forget and the bathroom light gets left on for much longer. LOL.

So I'm wondering if anyone knows for sure if compact fluorescents are still worth putting in places where they are mosly on for only a minute or two. Or is that counterproductive.

Also, we have a light fixture that ALWAYS burns out lightbulbs prematurely. We've burnt out compact fluorescents within months, even with occasional use. It is weird. I hate to put anything but conventional cheap lightbulbs in that fixture. WWYD?

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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#2 of 28 Old 03-22-2010, 10:17 PM
 
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We've become pretty disallusioned with the compact fluorescents. They generally are bigger than an average lightbulb & I've found that often the shades won't fit over them so half the lights in my house are now just bare bulbs. They are expensive to purchase (but that supposedly is made up for in energy savings) & the way we are charged for electricity here there is no noticeable difference. And when they do burn out you aren't supposed to put them in the regular garbage so you end up with the hassle of having to find a place to bring them back.

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#3 of 28 Old 03-23-2010, 12:54 PM
 
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I my CFL's! I am a SAHM, and there is at least 3-6 of us, if not more here 24/7. The first couple of years here in this house, I went through, no kidding hundreds of regular light bulbs. Now, I buy a couple of big packs from Sam's club once a year, and it usually lasts us till the next year. I know they promise YEARS of life out of them, but this a YMMV situation. I am pretty sure those claims are made for a household, where the parents and kiddos are gone to school or work 1/2 the time. They last 10 times longer than conventional bulb here, and there is a significant difference in my electric bill, but it may be because when I changed over to CFL's 5 or 6 years ago, I did it all at once, so it was VERY noticeable on my bill. (around $40 difference monthly) Between using CFL's and replacing older appliances and televisions to Energy Star ones, I have watched my bill go from $450/month to less than $200/month. Again YMMV, but it worked for us!

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#4 of 28 Old 03-24-2010, 01:50 PM
 
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Wow, Kyndmama, I probably haven't been through 100 incandescent bulbs in 10 years, let alone hundreds in a couple of years. I can't even imagine how many lights you must have in your house.

The problem I have with the CFLs is two-fold. I get migraines and they are known to exacerbate this problem. At work, I keep my overhead lights off because of that because I will leave work with a headache if I don't. If for some reason I have to be there several hours, I get a migraine if I have to be in a room with CFLs or regular tube floros. Also, I have rosacea and fluorescent light aggravates this for some people. This is also true for me. I don't think CFLs are all they're cracked up to be, IMHO.

Dh uses them in his home office, though. I don't go in there often. We have 4 bulbs that are sitting in a bag downstairs because you can't throw them in the trash due to the mercury in them. We will get rid of them next month is a special annual day for getting rid of them. We have to drive 14 miles to dispose of them.

I have a stockpile of incandescent and will use them until they come up with a better alternative that is widely available (LCD, probably).

I love the "green" factor or CFLs, but if they make your life miserable, there's not much you can do about it.
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#5 of 28 Old 03-25-2010, 09:54 AM
 
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For the fixture that keeps burning out bulbs, try a vibration-resistant bulb. We use these in a ceiling fan, even though the ceiling fan is almost never on.

CFLs reduce electrical usage per bulb by 80-90%. The October 2009 Consumer Reports rated CFLs. One take-home message is that IKEA CFL bulbs are have issues. :-(
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/m...ginMethod=auto

Even if you can't find a cfl brand for inside the home, they are great for outdoor lighting (front door, etc) LED bulbs with good performance are coming onto the market (Sams club, Home depot, costco) and also save 80-90% in electricity. No mercury in CFL bulbs.

Home Depot recycles CFL bulbs, Lowes does not.
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#6 of 28 Old 03-25-2010, 12:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by velochic View Post
Wow, Kyndmama, I probably haven't been through 100 incandescent bulbs in 10 years, let alone hundreds in a couple of years. I can't even imagine how many lights you must have in your house.

The problem I have with the CFLs is two-fold. I get migraines and they are known to exacerbate this problem. At work, I keep my overhead lights off because of that because I will leave work with a headache if I don't. If for some reason I have to be there several hours, I get a migraine if I have to be in a room with CFLs or regular tube floros. Also, I have rosacea and fluorescent light aggravates this for some people. This is also true for me. I don't think CFLs are all they're cracked up to be, IMHO.

Dh uses them in his home office, though. I don't go in there often. We have 4 bulbs that are sitting in a bag downstairs because you can't throw them in the trash due to the mercury in them. We will get rid of them next month is a special annual day for getting rid of them. We have to drive 14 miles to dispose of them.

I have a stockpile of incandescent and will use them until they come up with a better alternative that is widely available (LCD, probably).

I love the "green" factor or CFLs, but if they make your life miserable, there's not much you can do about it.
I have the problem of flipping on the light and it just blows I never thought about vibration resistant bulbs...actually never knew they existed. I think it may have something to do with the wiring in my house...we have had some work done, and it is not an everyday occurrence anymore I do know that apparently part of the house wasn't properly grounded? I don't know what it means really, except now my lights last longer than a week.

OOhh I've seen LCD bulbs...I can't wait till they're more affordable

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#7 of 28 Old 03-25-2010, 01:04 PM
 
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OOhh I've seen LCD bulbs...I can't wait till they're more affordable
IF you have a place to use really low wattage bulbs (like 10-15W incandescent equivalent) then the bulbs are affordable. ($15 for 3 at Sam's) Or you can go with a 60W "equivalent" for about $50-60 (online) ... get these just one at a time to make sure they will work for you. LED technology is improving rapidly and costs are dropping. Incandescent will be extinct within a decade.
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#8 of 28 Old 03-25-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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We have had poor experiences with the CFL's. We have had a number of them break and with the mercury contamination we've decided that we're done with them. Forget about the energy savings, they seem overly fragile compared to standard bulbs. We have some in our ceiling fans, but other than that, we're not using them anymore. They also give off a strange light - at least the ones from Costco do.

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#9 of 28 Old 03-26-2010, 05:49 PM
 
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I can't wait for LEDs to be more affordable. From what I understand they'll be a good replacement for halogen lightbulbs and we have a few light fixtures that use those. I like CFLs, we use them in most of our house except for a couple of dimmable fixtures since the current dimmable CFLs are still very large and don't fit in them. We've been using them in this house for about 2.5 years (that's when we moved here) and we had our first CFL burn out a couple of weeks ago. Mind you while either DH or I are normally home during the day (work from home), we also don't use lights during the day unless it's really really cloudy or something as we get lots of natural light.

The only issue I have is with the slow startup time for some of them. For example in our bathroom we have the candelabra-shaped bulbs and they are quite dim when you first turn them on. Now that's great when I go to the bathroom at night or first thing in the morning cause it's not as harsh, but when we're having people over for dinner or something it's a challenge (no windows in our bathroom as it's in the middle of the house).

Interesting about the connection with migraines. For me halogen lights definitely trigger them. No issues with CFLs but then once the migraine starts any light is evil, I don't care what bulb it is!
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#10 of 28 Old 03-27-2010, 12:39 PM
 
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We have had variable luck with CFL's. I originally switched to them because I liked the way they light up -- broad-spectrum light that more closely mimics daylight (all my co-workers switched to CFL's after seeing how nice my lamps lit my desk... but that was an office where they didn't use overhead lights, it was very dark without lamps). Anyway... so we seem to go through way way too many bulbs. They just constantly burn out and they are expensive to replace, especially every few months. We still have CFL's in most of our fixtures but for our outdoor lights, for ex., we finally switched back to regular bulbs. I like the CFL's in most places, especially the rooms we spend a lot of time in, but I didn't know that they would burn out more quickly if you only turned them on for a couple minutes, so now I never know what to do when I enter a room and end up leaving the lights of and walking around in the dark which isn't very fun with toys and stuff strewn all over the house...

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#11 of 28 Old 04-02-2010, 06:18 PM
 
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I actually like the light from our floor lamp with CFL's so much better than the ceiling light with what I assume is incandescent. They're larger, which is a pita, but we make it work. It's funny my mom complains the light hurts her eyes, but I really like them.

Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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#12 of 28 Old 04-05-2010, 11:22 PM
 
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I also have a light fixture in my bathroom that like to burn out bulb all. the. time. So annoying! Anyhow, I don't think CFLs are all they are cracked up to be either. We put them in all our lights 3 1/2yrs ago and have had to change almost all of them once. Which is irritating since they are suppose to last a long time, cost so much and they don't last me any longer that a regular bulb so I don't feel like I'm getting the money saving benefit. We bought another box of them a couple weeks ago but decided that it wasn't worth my money.

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#13 of 28 Old 05-04-2010, 08:42 PM
 
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We have had great success with CFL's. When we first started using them, our electricity bill dropped by at least 50%. It was amazing! And I guess we jsut have good luck with our bulbs. We have had a few go out, but for the most part, once we put a bulb in, we don't have to change it. We have had some bulbs in the same fixture for 5+ years (and that includes taking down the fixture, moving it to a new house, and putting it back up). We have a stockpile of extra bulbs, since FIL keeps buying new ones for us. We did have a problem with bulbs from Costco (they kept going out fairly quickly) and just never bought that brand again.

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#14 of 28 Old 05-18-2010, 01:55 PM
 
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When buying flourescents, be certain to look at what is called "color temperature". If you buy too high a color temperature your lights will look blue and your house like a morgue. The lower you go, the closer to incandescent you get. It all affects the ambience of your home ALOT.
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#15 of 28 Old 05-18-2010, 02:32 PM
 
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For those of us with heavy metal issues, the risk is toooooo great for breakage. We're sticking with regular bulbs until LCDs get better.

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#16 of 28 Old 05-18-2010, 02:59 PM
 
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We utterly REFUSE to use those new bulbs!

1) The light rays are toxic to my family - causing irritability, aggression & headaches. I'm sure there are more problems with them that we just don't see the physical evidence yet.

2) They are TOXIC inside. If you break one, did you know the gov't says you have to call HAZMAT to clean it up?? I have organic food, cleaners & clothing but I'll have that toxic waste in my house?? I don't think so.

3) When they burn out, you are supposed to dispose of them in an appropriate facility. I don't know about you folks, but the closest one to us is FOUR HOURS AWAY!

So for those of you that have used them and tossed them - did you bring them to the proper facility or throw them in the regular trash?
Can you even FATHOM the toxic h*ll we're going to have as the land fills fill up with those things??

Since incandescent bulbs will no longer be manufactured in about 2 years, I encourage you to buy up as many as you can now! Those CFL bulbs are hazardous to our families & our environment.

And those "green people" are pushing those on us ... know why?
$$$$$$$$$$ That's the only reason!
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#17 of 28 Old 05-18-2010, 07:41 PM
 
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This is my story with these bulbs....

Back in 1992, they were recommended to me by my electric company. I bought a set of eight bulbs for $6 EACH and they rebated me $3. I thought that was expensive but liked the idea of saving electricity. Those eight bulbs all lasted TEN YEARS and were still going strong when I sold the house.

I've tried buying them during the last three years at Home Depot and each light bulb I bought there only lasted about six months. After going through ALL twenty in during the three years, I stopped buying them. What started out as a good product was taken over by the business culture.

The way the bulbs are now... all they are doing is adding mercury to the environment. How many people do you think are recycling them and disposing of them the proper way?

These bulbs will the be the biggest environmental tragedy in recent times when our waters and soil are toxic because of the mercury..... VOTE with your wallet now and don't buy them!
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#18 of 28 Old 05-22-2010, 09:20 AM
 
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So read this thread yesterday (led here by the newsletter). Then last night my 16 month old broke a CFL on our bed while I was rinsing her diapers. I don't know how long she was exposed. She wasn't cut or anything, but she was holding a piece of the broken bulb when I got back in the room.

It seriously sucked. Got all over the sheets and blankets. They say you have to throw the bedding away. It's over $100 worth of bedding and the only blanket we have.

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#19 of 28 Old 05-22-2010, 02:54 PM
 
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I can't believe we will be FORCED to buy these cheaply made, China made, expensive, toxic lighting sources soon. Is it worth writing congresspeople on this and get them to change the law they passed on banning the USA made, environmentally safe incandescant light bulbs? A 16 mo holding a broken bulb laden with mercury is a scary picture....
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#20 of 28 Old 05-22-2010, 10:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I can't believe we will be FORCED to buy these cheaply made, China made, expensive, toxic lighting sources soon. Is it worth writing congresspeople on this and get them to change the law they passed on banning the USA made, environmentally safe incandescant light bulbs? A 16 mo holding a broken bulb laden with mercury is a scary picture....
What are you referring to? Is there a federal law banning incandescent lights? Can you link to more information?

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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#21 of 28 Old 05-23-2010, 01:15 AM
 
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An energy bill passed by Congress bans the incandescent light bulb by 2014!

Here is some info and you can google more.....

http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=45156
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#22 of 28 Old 05-23-2010, 01:32 AM
 
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my 15yo broke one on his bed the other day. i called poison control and they told me to pick up the big pieces with gloved hands, put them in a plastic bag, use tape to pick up the smaller but still visible pieces, and put everything into several bags and toss in the trash. they said to wash his duvet cover in hot water and not worry about it.

tbh, i'm not panic-stricken, but thats bc when i was a kid, my dad broke open a thermometer so i could play with the mercury. of course now i know that may have everything to do with my fibromyalgia and other health issues, but i'm sure the amount i was exposed to is way higher than the bit of powder on ds's bed.

should i have have been more worried?

Bring back the old MDC
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#23 of 28 Old 05-23-2010, 05:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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my 15yo broke one on his bed the other day. i called poison control and they told me to pick up the big pieces with gloved hands, put them in a plastic bag, use tape to pick up the smaller but still visible pieces, and put everything into several bags and toss in the trash. they said to wash his duvet cover in hot water and not worry about it.

tbh, i'm not panic-stricken, but thats bc when i was a kid, my dad broke open a thermometer so i could play with the mercury. of course now i know that may have everything to do with my fibromyalgia and other health issues, but i'm sure the amount i was exposed to is way higher than the bit of powder on ds's bed.

should i have have been more worried?
I wouldn't recommend more worried, but I am really, really surprised you were told to throw the remains in the trash. I thought it had to be contained and brought to a hazardous waste disposal site. Maybe others know more about this than I do.

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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#24 of 28 Old 06-25-2010, 06:34 PM
 
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This is the EPA's response on how to clean up a broken CFL.

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#25 of 28 Old 06-26-2010, 01:05 PM
 
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We have had poor experiences with the CFL's. We have had a number of them break and with the mercury contamination we've decided that we're done with them. Forget about the energy savings, they seem overly fragile compared to standard bulbs. We have some in our ceiling fans, but other than that, we're not using them anymore. They also give off a strange light - at least the ones from Costco do.

Liz
Yep... my hubby refuses to buy them anymore because when they break they are toxic waste. You are not even supposed to put them in the regular trash. So, they are WAY to much trouble.
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#26 of 28 Old 06-26-2010, 03:27 PM
 
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Thanks for this thread! It's reminding me to buy more good ol' fashioned light bulbs next time I'm at the store!

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#27 of 28 Old 07-04-2010, 12:33 PM
 
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I thought places that sold CFLs often take them back for recycling, so... Home Depot, Lowe's, Ikea... Like Best Buy will take back old batteries. If there's one of these stores closer to you than the local hazmat collection center, that might be more convenient.

Here's another link about CFL and mercury cleanup (and a reassurance that a hazmat crew is not needed...though plenty of ventilation is key): http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/cfl.asp

We just stockpile our toxic trash in a box and make it a once-a-year errand or so to get them dropped off at the right places. Speaking of toxic, my understanding was that incandescent bulbs weren't -safe-...that they contain a bit of lead. It's really about what works for your family, I think... even after the legislation is passed, do you really think incandescent bulbs will vanish from the marketplace? I think as long as there is a demand, SOMEONE will make and find a way to sell them, even if it's out of the back of a truck!

Also, a note to everyone whose light bulbs --- incandescent, LCD, or CFL --- burn out much more quickly than they are rated, it could be a wiring problem with your home (or the fixtures). Apparently, this is much more common than we would think. It may cost a bundle to have an electrician fix the problem, but it could save you years of hassle and expense if it is the issue.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overvoltage
It can be temporary or permanent. There's a few other advice pages about it out there...might be worth some Googling for those of you with issues.


We use CFLs in some areas of our home... the outdoor lighting. Hard-to-reach areas (because they do last longer for us). I actually -like- how some take a few seconds to warm up, because it's not as shocking in the dark to turn on an instiantly bright light. For the quick on-off spots (closets and hallways), we're using up our incandescents and saving up to replace those with LEDs. We don't use them often enough for them to make an impact on our monthly bill.
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#28 of 28 Old 07-04-2010, 12:50 PM
 
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I like our CFLs, though they certainly don't live up to all the hype. But then again, nothing ever does, right?

While we have had a few bulbs burn out before their time, for the most part, the bulbs we bought when we switched over are still in place. In general I have found that they do last longer, though certainly not years and years and years.

I have also never had a bulb break. All our lights are overhead, we have no lamps or anything, so maybe that has something to do with it? I haven't ever had an incandesent break either. So I am not worried about breakage, it just doesn't happen often at all.

As far as disposal, I have only had to toss a few, but there are plenty of other household items that can't go in regular trash-batteries, paint etc. So, no big deal.
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