7 May

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL) Energy Savings

Posted by Norman F

cfl, compact fluorescent light bulb

Just in case you have not joined the wave.  Replacing incandescent light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs or CFLs can save you lots of money. 90% of energy used by traditional incandescent lightbulbs is wasted as heat.

How Energy Efficient?

How does a regular incandescent bulb compare to a compact fluorescent one? CFL’s use about 66% less energy and last about 10x longer. The estimated amount of savings is up to $39 over the life of the CFL. PG&E advertises that replacing a 100 watt incandescent bulb with a 25-watt CFL will save at least $90 in energy costs over the life of the bulb. A typical house may have over 60 light bulbs.

Per the Energy Star.gov: we could reduce green house gas emissions equivalent to taking 800,000 cars of the road by having each American home replace just one light bulb with a CFL.

A 60 W incandescent lightbulb can be replaced with a CFL that uses from 13 to 15 Watts of energy. LED lights would use even less energy, perhaps 12 Watts to achieve the same amount of light.

By 2012, light bulbs are required to be labeled with Light Facts that tell you their energy costs, light output, and other information.

Picking the best CFL Bulbs
By now, hopefully everyone knows why we should switch to CFLs. We have covered this area in the past.

Environmental Working Group has a new research which identified 7 bulb lines from Earthmate, Litetronics, Sylvania, Feit, MaxLite, and Philips that last a long time and have very little mercury. Look for these when you are shopping.

Also a reminder that these bulbs are very delicate. Transport them with care. We have recently broken 2 CFL bulbs ourselves.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs are falling in price everyday. Home Depot now has 23 Watt (120 Watt Equivalent) Flood Light CFLs. 14 Watt (60 watt equiv, 800 lumens) Candelabra CFLs are available.

Environmental Working Group has a new research which identified 7 bulb lines from Earthmate, Litetronics, Sylvania, Feit, MaxLite, and Philips that last a long time and have very little mercury.  Look for these when you are shopping.

Different CFLs emit different light temperatures or color of the light, measured in Kelvin (K). Cool Bright White CFLs are rated at a temperature of 3500K, while Soft White CFLs are 2700K. 3000K will resemble a halogen bulb’ s white or light. Temperatures from 5000 to 6000K resemble daylight.  Consider special Full Spectrum CFLs to beat Winter Blues

Flipping CFLs Quickly On and Off Warning

CFLs will last a lot longer if you do not turn them on and off frequently.  Leave them on if you will be back in the room within 5 minutes. Flipping a CFL on/off is the equivalent to 5 seconds of CFL ON time. CFLs will burn out quickly if not allowed to have 15 minutes between power cycling.

We recommend you do not use CFLs in motion controlled light fixtures.

Hybrid CFL – Halogen Lightbulb

To address the slow brightening of CFLs after being turned on, GE created the Energy Smart Hybrid Halogen – CFL. This bulb includes a halogen capsule inside the CFL bulb, that turns on instantly and then turns off as the CFL reaches full brightness. The down side is that this bulb has problems with rapid power cycling and has a lower life when this happens often. GE markets this lightbulb as lasting for 7.3 years and saving $48 in energy costs.

Actual lifespan of a CFL

California has subsidized the cost of compact fluorescent light bulbs so they cost an average of $1.30 versus $4 without subsidies. Analysis by PG&E for 2006 to 2008 has found an average lifespan of 6.3 years for CFL’s versus a projected useful life of 9.4 years. Field tests have shown shorter lifespans in bathrooms, recessed lighting, and when frequently turned on and off. We have read some articles claiming a 10,000 hour CFL average life span which equates to 3.5 years with 8 hours a day of usage.

EDN is reporting that some CFLs suffer from poor power factor that causes more power use. These power losses don’t show up directly on our electricity bill, but the utilities sure see the effects.

Low Temperatures

Outdoor CFL’s are not designed to work in extremely cold conditions, such as those below 0°F. Outdoor compact fluorescent light bulbs will take longer to reach full brightness in cold conditions.

Recycling CFLs

Recycle CFL Light bulbs

The one gotcha – CFL’s contain mercury, so you cannot simply throw them in the trash.  You need to recycle them at stores like Home Depot or Ikea. Several local hardware stores including Brownie’s in San Francisco and many Ace Hardware locations also recycle CFLs.

Also be very careful if a CFL breaks. Follow the instructions to carefully clean it up and ventilate the room for at least 15 minutes. Have people and pets leave the room, and do not let anyone walk near the broken CFL, and turn off any central forced air heating or cooling system, if needed. Consult these additional clean-up steps to properly dispose of a broken CFL.

Green Incandescent Bulb – Philips Lighting’s Halogena Energy Savers

Hate CFL’s? Philips Lighting has released the new Halogena Energy Savers Light bulb. It is an incandescent bulb that is 30% more efficient than older bulbs and lasts about 3 times as long. Cost $5. Amazon and Home Depot carry them exclusively.

The 2007 Federal Energy bill phases out inefficient incandescent light bulbs beginning in 2012, so that has forced vendors to innovate.

Incandescent Bulbs are Being Phased Out

California began phasing out sales of incandescent light bulbs on January 1, 2011, while the Federal law takes effect on January 1, 2014. It will be harder to find incandescent light bulbs in the future, so CFLs are bound to become more popular by default.

Green Fluorescent Lighting

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) have been covered often by the media. Not much attention has been paid to standard fluorescent tube lights.

Philips has new “green” ALTO II T8 low mercury fluorescent lamps. With 50% less mercury than previous generation low mercury lamps, these are better for the environment. They also use 100% recycled mercury. These bulbs are available in lower power 25 W, 25W long life version, so you can save up to $21 in energy costs over the rated average life of the lamp.

New low cost LED Light Bulbs are coming soon that will surpass CFLs in efficiency.

Improving Light Energy Savings

CFL, Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb

You will not save money even if you use CFLs, when lights are left on for no reason. With our recent remodel, we installed several light switches that automatically turn off. These are required by California’s Title 22 code.

Vacancy sensors detect when a space becomes vacant and turn lighting off automatically after a preset time delay elapses. They also make other specialized versions that have fixed 5 minutes delays, good for closets.

These switches replace standard light switches, so they can be easily retrofitted. Most cost under $50.

Costco CFL Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb Sale

Costco CFL Lightbulb Sale

Costco has a PGE instant rebates on Feit Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs in any San Francisco Bay Area locations.

PG&E CFL Sale 13 Watt

A 10 pack of 13 Watt bulbs (100 watt replacement) costs only $6.49

PG&E CFL Sale 23 Watt

An 8 pack of 23 Watt bulbs (100 watt replacement) costs only $7.19

Several other varieties are available.

Also read: Ways to Save Energy, Money on your Energy Bill

Compact Fluorescent CFL Sales Drop

CFL, Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb

Hard to believe but CFL sales actually dropped in 2008 compared to 2007. One article blames it on the economy. People want to save money but short shortsightedly buy the cheaper priced bulb. Some people do not light the light color emitted, but may not realize there are CFL bulbs with different emission colors.

In the past, 80% of light bulbs sold in the U.S. were incandescent, and lighting uses almost 20% of all residential electricity. Clearly there is a lot of room for improvement.

In the coming years, incandescent bulbs will be slowly phased out, so people will have to buy CFLs or LED bulbs.

The estimated amount of savings is up to $39 over the life of the CFL. A typical house may have over 60 light bulbs.

Full Spectrum CFLs to beat Winter Blues

Costco CFL Light bulbs, compact fluorescent light bulb

Full Spectrum compact fluorescent light bulbs are now available. These light bulbs produce a white light that produces a light spectrum similar to that of the Sun’s light. This type of light source has been use used to treat Sleep Phase Disorders, Seasonal affective disease or winter blues, and other conditions.

full-spectrum CFL, daylight CFL

Look for bulbs with full spectrum on CFL bulb labels. They mimic daylight so they have a temperature rating of 5000K – 6500K. Home Depot’s are called “Daylight Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs”. They do not cost much more.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

This malady is finally getting more press. This disorder, a form of clinical depression, was given a name 1984. It is characterized by episodes of depression that usually occur during a certain time of the year, usually during fall or winter, which become well again around Spring and Summer, without treatment. It can start as early as September, when the days are getting shorter. People might feel like sleeping more, craving carbs, and gain weight as if they were going to hibernate. SAD happens more often in areas like the north, where the seasons change more visibly. 10% of the people in New Hampshire suffer from this, while only 1% suffer from this in Florida.

Possible signs of SAD:

  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Inactivity
  • Sleeping Longer
  • Low Energy
  • Negative feelings

If your location has long winter nights, with little sunlight, you might be affected. A recent article has additional tips on beating this syndrome. Light therapy, Dawn simulation, Negative Air Ions, Antidepressants, Behavioral Therapy, Vitamin D, Diet, and and Outdoor Exercise are therapies to help ease the Winter Blues. Light therapy is believed to help regulate melatonin in the brain and help trick the brain into thinking that days are not getting shorter. Vigorous outdoor exercise for 45 minutes a day, during most days of the week can also help reduce symptoms.

Philips even has a new Wake-up Light with Dock for iPod

This item slowly wakes you up and allows you to feel more ready in the morning. – Anything that makes waking up easier sounds good to us and a lot of others!

Posted on May 7th, 2012
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6 Responses to “Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL) Energy Savings”

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