Buy CFLs for Earth Day

In our recent interview with Bill Nye, he reminded us that the hardest thing for everyone to understand about the environment is that every single thing you do affects everybody in the whole world.”

Inspired by his words, I decided to replace some lightbulbs in my house with CFLs (compact flourescent lightbulbs). While I have been slowly replacing lightbulbs with CFLs as they burn out, I finally replaced a good number before they were burned out. It also helps that many companies are offering CFLs in different sizes and more attactive casings (i.e. flood lamps, decorative bulbs, etc). Thus, more than 90% of the lightbulbs in my house are now energy efficient.

Many stores will make this conversion easy for you with multi-packs and rebates as well. Energy Star even has a “choose a light” guide for you to help you decide which CFL suits your needs best. Nye suggests finding CFLs of the color you like, but with all things, the higher quality ones are usually more expensive.

Hear Bill Nye’s Opinions on CFLs

So you go to the store and you buy one [compact fluorescent light bulb]. Ok, but if you replace every lamp in your house, or every lamp in the main rooms… Replace every one of those lamps, and you will see your power bill go down… Now there are some whining, unbelievable-freakin’ whiners out there who tell you that we can’t change to compact fluorescents because of the mercury – “there’s no way to get rid of the mercury that’s in those lights and it’s gonna kill everybody.” So let’s keep in mind that it was the year 1951 when American industry went to buying more fluorescent lamps than incandescent lamps. That is to say, if you work at any sort of factory anywhere, they have fluorescent lights – ‘cuz it’s so much cheaper. And so those lights are required by law to be recycled and the mercury recovered. And there are services that recover the lights and recover the mercury. So we just gotta do the same thing for domestic consumers – for people that buy ‘em for their houses. For cryin’ out loud – this is not, if I may, rocket surgery. This is actually a little more complicated that: trying to motivate everyone to do the right thing with regard to their old lamps. And of course it can be done; it’s a metal. Who doesn’t want to recover a metal? It’s valuable, it’s shiny, you can see it – of course you can do it. Download the Podcast

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  1. Rudy’s avatar

    As someone who sells light bulbs for a living, I am less enthusiastic than most about compact fluorescent bulbs. This is due to the fact that the ones currently available contain significant amounts of mercury. If one of these bulbs should break inside of a person’s home, it could cause a challenging disposal situation. It is my belief that the technology should progress to a point at which the mercury levels are low or nonexistent before people changeover their entire homes. Another consideration is that as these bulbs burn out, they will most likely be thrown away as though they are normal rubbish and landfills will have incredibly high levels of mercury in their soil as a result.



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