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How NOT to use a CFL bulb

Just a quick tip. One that’s so common sense that I really shouldn’t need to even mention it, but I feel that I must.

If you’re switching from incandescent bulbs to CFLs (compact flourescent lights), you still need to turn the lights off when you leave a room to really save money. Some people think that because marketers have touted the energy-saving nature of CFLs compared to incandescents, that they don’t need to turn off the light when they leave a room for longer than a few minutes.

Granted, it is easier on the CFL bulbs if you don’t flick them on and off repeatedly, so if you’re just stepping out of a room for a few seconds or a couple minutes, go ahead and keep the light on. But leaving the bulb on when you otherwise would have turned the light off (with an incandescent bulb) is just silly, and you’re wasting all that money you would have saved with the switch to CFL.

So, please use your common sense. Thanks.

(oh, and don’t just toss that old CFL into the trash. CFL bulbs contains mercury and are considered toxic waste, just like any other hazardous material. Dispose of them properly. Some localities have special trash collections for CFLs, and some home improvement stores accept them. Check with your local government for your options)

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Clever Dude


  • “Granted, it is easier on the CFL bulbs if you don’t flick them on and off repeatedly,”

    We thought we were doing good by putting in a CFL bulb in a VERY hard to reach (think 15 feet high) socket – it blew QUICKLY. Could the flicking of the lights be the reason?

  • @MyJourney
    Many factors can affect the lifetime of any bulb, but for CFL’s you have to include duty cycle – check out the Lifespan section at the link below…

    Upshot is that when you turn it on you should leave it on for at least 15 minutes to have a smaller impact on the lifetime of the bulb.

    Another factor is heat and whether your bulb was meant to be used as you did.
    (quoted from a later section on the same wikipedia article…)
    Some CFLs are labeled not to be run base up, since heat will shorten the ballast’s life. Such CFLs are unsuitable for use in pendant lamps and especially unsuitable for recessed light fixtures. CFLs for use in such fixtures are available. Current recommendations for fully enclosed, unventilated light fixtures (such as those recessed into insulated ceilings), are either to use ‘reflector CFLs’ (R-CFL), cold cathode CFLs or to replace such fixtures with those designed for CFLs.

  • Kind of a random thought that came to me when reading this, but I wonder how many people will actually dispose of these bulbs properly? Maybe 10%? 20% at most?

    How long until we have a toxic waste disaster on our hands from the millions of CFL bulbs tossed in the trash? 🙂

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