Efficiency Vermont

CFL Corral

FAQ

What is a CFL?
Why should I use CFLs?
Where should I start using CFLs?
How do CFLs work?
Will CFLs fit in my existing light fixtures?
Do CFLs produce the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs?
Can I use a CFL in a light fixture with a dimmer switch?
Can I use a CFL in my 3-way lamp?
Can I use a CFL in a recessed light fixture?
Can I use a CFL in an enclosed light fixture?
Can I use CFLs in the bathroom?
Will CFLs work in ceiling fans?
Do CFLs work outside?
Don't CFLs have the distracting habit of humming and flickering?
Can I use CFLs in places where I turn the lights on/off a lot?
Do CFLs contain mercury? If so, how much?
What special precautions should I take with CFLs?
What do I do if a CFL breaks?
How do I dispose of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)?
Do they need to be recycled?

FAQ

What is a CFL?
CFL stands for Compact Fluorescent Light bulb. It uses 66- 75% percent less energy than an incandescent bulb, lasts 6 to 10 times longer and can be used in an ordinary light socket.

Why should I use CFLs?
The real cost of a lightbulb is not what if costs to purchase, but what it costs to use. CFLs use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Even though a single CFL costs more than a single incandescent bulb, you'll actually save more money in the long run. Just one CFL can save you about $30 or more in energy cost over the life of each bulb. And if you switch out the six most used light bulbs in your home for compact fluorescents, you could save up to $250 over the bulbs' lifetime. So the extra money you spend at the store is made up in savings on your energy bill. And since a single CFL lasts up to 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb, you'll save yourself some trips up the stepladder too.

Where should I start using CFLs?
Good locations to switch from incandescent light bulbs to CFLs include fixtures in your living room, family room, kitchen, bedroom and den. Outdoor light fixtures are also great places to use CFLs.

How do CFLs work?
CFLs create light differently than everyday incandescent bulbs. To produce the light we see, regular light bulbs use a filament that is heated by electricity and becomes white-hot. CFLs, on the other hand, use a gas that creates invisible ultraviolet (UV) light when electricity goes through it. The UV light then hits a special coating inside the bulb, which converts it into visible light. Because CFLs create less heat to provide light, they are much more energy-efficient.

Will CFLs fit in my existing light fixtures?
CFLs can replace regular incandescent bulbs in almost any fixture. They come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes including globe lamps for your bathroom vanity, chandelier bulbs, lamps for recessed down lights and larger or more compact standard light bulbs.

Check the packaging of the CFL to ensure that it may be used in an entirely enclosed fixture. Additionally, some ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs are specifically designed to provide dimming and 3-way functionality-these options will be identified on the products' packaging.

Do CFLs produce the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs?
Yes. You can shop for CFLs the same way you do with incandescent bulbs. Just look for the power rating you want to use. You know, a 60 watt bulb, a 75 watt bulb or a 100 watt bulb. Even though a CFL uses fewer watts, it will still list the incandescent equivalent on its package.

And since CFLs produce more light at a lower wattage, you can safely increase the amount of light your fixtures put out. For example, if a fixture is rated for 60 watts, you can replace it with a 13 to 15 watt CFL.

Can I use a CFL in a light fixture with a dimmer switch?
You can use CFLs in a fixture that uses a dimmer switch, but you need a specially designed bulb. Check the package to make sure your new CFL is designed to be used with a dimmer switch.

Can I use a CFL in my 3-way lamp?
Yes. As with incandescent bulbs, you need a 3-way CFL to fully use all positions of your 3-way lamp. A regular CFL will work in a 3-way lamp in the middle or medium setting and will not damage the bulb or shorten its life.

Can I use a CFL in a recessed light fixture?
Yes, but it is better to use a CFL labeled as a reflector instead of a spiral CFL because a reflector spreads light out wider and more evenly. Make sure any CFL you use has been approved for use in a recessed light fixture.

Can I use a CFL in an enclosed light fixture?
Not all CFLs are appropriate for enclosed fixtures; make sure the ones you choose are also labeled, "suitable for use in enclosed fixtures."

Can I use CFLs in the bathroom?
CFLs will work in your bathroom, but the humidity could shorten the bulb's life. Run your ventilation fan during showers and baths and for 15 minutes afterwards.

Will CFLs work in ceiling fans?
Ceiling fans can be a great place to use CFLs. As with any light fixture, check the size of the bulbs needed to make sure the bulbs will fit in your ceiling fan fixture.

Do CFLs work outside?
CFLs are great outdoors, especially on the fixtures you leave on all night in your porch or lamp post. They are often the first place people try them out. Many CFLs can be used in covered or open fixtures outside, as well as in recessed cans and track lighting.

In extreme cold, CFLs can behave differently and take longer to reach their full brightness. But don't worry-CFLs are still a great way to light outdoors throughout the year.

Don't CFLs have the distracting habit of humming and flickering?
Most new fluorescent bulbs give you steady, hum-free light. The new electronic ballasts are not only more efficient, but also quiet and quick to start. Look for a quality product with the ENERGY STAR label and be sure to ask for a demonstration at your lighting or hardware store.

Can I use CFLs in places where I turn the lights on/off a lot?
CFLs work best when they are on for over 15 minutes at a time. To take full advantage of the energy savings and long life of ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs, it is best to use them in light fixtures you use more often.

Do CFLs contain mercury? If so, how much?
CFLs have a very small amount of mercury inside them- less than 5 milligrams. No mercury is released when a CFL is used normally and isn't broken.

What special precautions should I take with CFLs?
Like anything made of glass, CFLs can break if you drop them. So be careful when you're handling them. Always screw and unscrew the bulb at its base, and never force a CFL into a light socket.

What do I do if a CFL breaks?
Please look here for more information

How do I dispose of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)? Do they need to be recycled?
If you need to dispose of your bulbs, please visit our disposal locator or the www.mercvt.org website. Vermont law states that all mercury labeled products must be disposed of with hazardous waste rather than included in your regular trash. CFLs contain a trace amount of mercury -- less than 5 milligrams. The amount of mercury in a CFL is 1/5 the amount in a watch battery. Mercury is commonly found in thermometers, light switches, thermostats, and batteries. Older household thermometers contain about 500 mg of mercury. It would take over 100 CFLs to equal that amount.

Do they need to be recycled?
At participating True Value, Ace and Do-It-Best Hardware stores there is a limit of 6 bulbs per customer visit for disposal. Find participating locations with our disposal locator or at www.mercvt.org.

You can also contact your local municipal solid waste agency.

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