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Shedding light on compact fluorescents

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

In the September issue of Fast Company, author Charles Fishman begins his story like this:

Sitting humbly on shelves in stores everywhere is a product, priced at less than $3, that will change the world. Soon. It is a fairly ordinary item that nonetheless cuts to the heart of a half-dozen of the most profound, most urgent problems we face. Energy consumption. Rising gasoline costs and electric bills. Greenhouse-gas emissions. Dependence on coal and foreign oil. Global warming.

Wow! A leader like that begs for an explanation. Well here it is. Compact Fluorescent Lights or CFLs, which spent the 1990’s struggling through quirky engineering and aggravatingly poor performance, are finally being produced to match the quality and output of “regular” incandescent bulbs.

“So what?” you say.

Where CFLs shine is in their energy savings. While CFLs costs as much as five times the price of a regular bulb ($3), they use 75% less energy and typically last about ten times as long. According to Fast Company, if each of the 110 million homes in America replaced one 60-watt bulb with a CFL bulb, enough energy would be saved to power a city of 1.5 million people, equivalent to taking 1.3 million automobiles off the road. Each replacement CFL pays for its higher cost (through energy savings) in just a few weeks of regular use. The exceptionally long life of the bulb replaces the need for manufacture, shipping and disposal of eight incandescent bulbs. Are you sold yet? (rhetorical question)

Tomorrow is offical Change a Light Day. Go to the Energy Star website and take the pledge to replace just one regular bulb with an energy-efficient CFL. Of course, you’re not limited to just one.

Read Fishman's full piece on CFLs in Fast Company. You won't be sorry.
Calculate the monetary and environmental savings of switching to CFLs in your home or office.

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