Wednesday, August 15, 2007

CFL, Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs - Questions and Answers

What is an energy-saving compact florescent light bulb, and how does it differ from regular incandescent bulbs?
CFLs use at least two-thirds less energy than standard incandescent bulbs to provide the same amount of light, and last up to six to ten times longer: 10,000 vs. 1,000 hours. They save $30 or more in energy costs over each bulb’s lifetime.

CFLs also generate 70 percent less heat, so they’re safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling. CFLs produce no sound and fall within a warm color range. They are available in different sizes and shapes to fit almost any fixture, either indoors or outdoors.

Why should consumers use energy-saving bulbs?
CFL bulbs save energy, producing more light per watt than a standard incandescent lamp. Using CFL decreases energy consumption—resulting in energy savings—and helps reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gases. The World Wildlife Fund recommends conversion to CFL bulbs in our fight against greenhouse gases. The environmental non-profit group, "18Seconds," states that if every U.S. home bought one CFL, the effect on greenhouse gases would be equivalent to taking two million cars off the road.

If all households were to change two to three incandescent bulbs to CFL, it would contribute to large total energy savings and reduce the negative impact by producing less greenhouse gases.

Additionally, the bulbs don't get hot. They are well suited also for outdoor use and areas where a light is lit for a long time.

Why is the CFL bulb somewhat more expensive than an incandescent bulb?
The product and the production process are more complex. CFLs are more expensive as compared to the incandescent since:

· CFL needs electronic materials where as incandescent does not need any.

· CFL needs two filaments while incandescent needs only one.

· CFL needs a special coating while incandescent does not need this.

How much money can I save if I start to use CFL bulbs only?
The main savings lie within costs for energy. The energy may account for a big part of the running expenses for a household. A CFL bulb costs three to five times more than an incandescent bulb, but it lasts up to ten times longer and gives five times the light output compared to an incandescent bulb.

In a nutshell, if you use a CFL instead of an incandescent bulb with similar light output for the same time, you spend only a one-fifth on the electricity bill. The more CFL you use, the more you save.

What is the cost of the IKEA CFL bulbs?
IKEA offers 11-watt 3-pack linear CFL bulbs for $3.99 and an 11-watt 2-pack globe for $9.99.

Is it true that CFL bulbs contain mercury? Why and how much?
CFL bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing—an average of 5 milligrams. Mercury is an essential, irreplaceable element in CFL bubs and allows the bulb to be an efficient light source.

Is it safe to use mercury in bulbs?
Today there is no other production technique; however, in the production process the amounts of mercury added are strictly controlled. IKEA and researchers are working hard to find techniques that will reduce the amount of mercury even more. IKEA has voluntarily imposed tougher limit levels of mercury in CFL (three milligrams) than demanded in the Restrictions of Hazardous Substances directive (five milligrams).

The industry is currently aiming at totally mercury-free CFL lighting, but this is still five to ten years away.

Additionally, IKEA places strict demands on customer and co-worker safety and product quality. In the product specifications to suppliers, all legal and IKEA-specific demands are defined. Risk analysis is made during product development, and in production comprehensive test routines are in place. IKEA uses independent accredited test laboratories for verification. IKEA follows government norms for safety tests as well as standards for life and quality testing.

How should I dispose of my CFL?
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. If better options do not exist, place the CFL in a plastic bag and seal it before putting it in your trash. You may also bring your used mercury containing light bulbs to your local IKEA store for free disposal. Another option is to check directly with your local waste management agency for recycling options and disposal guidelines in your community.

What happens to the used bulbs someone brings back to IKEA for recycling?
The waste of electrical equipment and light bulbs are taken care of by approved recyclers, experts in recycling processes.

The bulb goes through a separation process into glass, powder and mercury. Separated mercury goes through a process of triple distillation which takes away all contamination (mercury has a tendency to attract other materials). After the triple distillation is finished the mercury is reused.

Will IKEA continue to sell incandescent bulbs?
The IKEA ambition is to find alternative lighting solutions that are more efficient and have less negative impact on the environment.

What does the future hold regarding energy-efficient lighting?
Some possible new alternatives to today’s light sources are:

· LED (Light Emitting Diodes) is the furthest in this development and with today’s knowledge there are no problems with heavy metals. IKEA hopes to increase the use of this light source into everyday lighting. Today it is mainly used in decorative lighting.

· The development of halogen technology called IRC (Infra Red Coating) is also encouraging as the lifespan and efficiency may reach CFL levels without heavy metals. IKEA continues to follow the development in this field.

· Mercury-free CFLs are also under development. Research suggests that in time we can have a performance comparable to today’s CFL. But this is still 5-10 years away from any real industrial production. This technology may be passed by LED and halogen technology before this.

How can I use CFL lighting to enhance my home?
The possibility of creating functional and attractive lighting in the home is endless. IKEA recommends that the characteristics of each light source are taken into consideration and that lighting is planned for the whole home.

In the kitchen, counter top lighting with an efficient fluorescent lamp gives good working light and over the dining table a pendant lamp works well with a CFL bulb.

You can use CFL bulbs with paper or textile sculpture lamps on the floor or as table lamps.

Energy-saving CFL bulbs are also well suited for table lamps, glass fixtures and for outdoor lamps.

article source:

1 comment:

email said...

This is an interesting and pretty thorough blog on CFL blubs. I like that you gave both the energy and money savings of switching over. But I've also found that just switching one bulb you could save up to $12 on your electric bill! Don't even have to switch them all...though that would help the environment more.

I wrote a comparison blog for CFLs, LEDs & standard blogs. I'd really like for you to come read it and leave your feedback:

Thank you.

Megan Boone