If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars.That's pretty impressive. If you'll follow the link, you'll see that the government boasts that CFLs "use at least 2/3 less energy than standard incandescent bulbs to provide the same amount of light, and last up to 10 times longer" and (near and dear to my heart) "save $30 or more in energy costs over each bulb’s lifetime."
If you've seen a television at all lately, you know major corporations are jumping on the CFL bandwagon: I've seen a Wal-Mart ad for these new bulbs on several programs recently.
I'd been starting to think this might be a good and useful thing to do -- especially in my house where teenagers can turn lights on but seem to find it impossible to turn them off.
This morning, however, I saw this item in Zay N. Smith's Quick Takes column in this morning's Chicago Sun-Times:
News Headline: "Going green . . . a simple light bulb will help."Is this the incandescent light bulb industry's attempt to maintain market share against a new and profit-threatening innovation? Or is there a real problem?
News Headline: "Lights out for old, inefficient bulbs."
News Headline: "By changing from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents, you can save money, energy and the world."
If you switch to compact fluorescent bulbs for the good of the environment, you will need to know a few things in case you break one.
Hazardous waste experts recommend:
1. Do not use a vacuum cleaner, as it will spread the fluorescent bulb's mercury neurotoxin into the air and contaminate the machine.
2. Ventilate the area and reduce the room temperature.
3. Collect the material into an airtight container while wearing coveralls, goggles and an air mask.
4. Pat the areas with the sticky side of tape and wipe with a damp cloth, putting these, also, in the airtight container.
5. Call local authorities to see where the container should be taken for safe disposal.
Congratulations on going green!
The EPA Fact Sheet largely confirms the news item -- albeit with an obviously different slant:
Because there is such a small amount of mercury in CFLs, your greatest risk if a bulb breaks is getting cut from glass shards. Research indicates that there is no immediate health risk to you or your family should a bulb break and it’s cleaned up properly. You can minimize any risks by following these proper clean-up and disposal guidelines:Nothing's ever clear cut, is it?
- Sweep up—don’t vacuum—all of the glass fragments and fine particles.
- Place broken pieces in a sealed plastic bag and wipe the area with a damp paper towel to pick up any stray shards of glass or fine particles. Put the used towel in the plastic bag as well.
- If weather permits, open windows to allow the room to ventilate.
Nor are you supposed to throw CFLs in the garbage when -- after hopefully saving you all this money and energy -- they eventually burn out. This from the EPA Fact Sheet again:
Like paint, batteries, thermostats, and other hazardous household items, CFLs should be disposed of properly. Do not throw CFLs away in your household garbage if better disposal options exist. To find out what to do first check the following website: www.earth911.org where you can find disposal options by using your zip code... or by calling 1-877 EARTH911 for local disposal options. Another option is to check directly with your local waste management agency for recycling options and disposal guidelines in your community. Additional information is available at www.lamprecycle.org. Finally, IKEA stores take back used CFLs, and other retailers are currently exploring take-back programs.So: If I use CFLs am I being a 'good steward' of the Earth -- or am I just getting in on the ground floor of a new environmental crisis? I'm leaning toward trying them out... depending on the price.... Have any of you used CFLs? What are your observations?