The Case For CFL Bulbs

Lately, I’ve seen some buzz building about the government ‘forcing’ American citizens to convert to CFL bulbs by phasing out the sale of traditional (incandescent)  bulbs over the next few years.

Many of the opponents feel that this is some sort of violation of rights, taking away choice or forcing a lesser product down their throats.

I guess I see it as that the positives outweigh the negatives.  Yes, there are drawbacks to CFLs (see below), but in terms of what we gain, I think converting to CFL bulb (or LED bulbs, which I haven’t tried yet) is a net positive.

As we build more homes, as they get bigger, the energy demands continue to grow.  If we can save the need for additional power capacity or further dependency on oil, which is outside of our control in terms of both pricing and availability, I think it’s worth the sacrifice.

Not to mention the impact all the power consumption has on our environment.

People are forever going to complain about the negatives that are associated with CFLs.

  • That they don’t like the color of the light (which has been improved dramatically over the years),
  • Tthat they don’t like how it takes time for the lights to reach full brightness (this isn’t perfect but has also been improved by leaps and bounds)
  • That they cost too much.  Between sales, coupons, and promotions, I’ve not paid more than $1 for a normal CFL bulb in the past two years.  If you’re still thinking they cost $3 to $4, then you’re not looking hard enough because deals are out there.  At $1 per bulb, they pay for themselves in months with the reduced usage, plus they last so much longer (I’ve not had one burn out inside our house yet, and I’ve been phasing them in since 2007).
  • Or that they can’t just throw them in the trash.  I guess I don’t see this as a huge problem.  They burn out so infrequently that it’s not a big deal to set them aside and then take them on a trip to Home Depot, Lowes, or IKEA, one of just several places that I know accepts them for proper disposal.

The fact is that many other countries across the globe have already taken these steps, and guess what?  No great shakes!  They’ve survived!

If it’s really important, go ahead and buy all the energy wasting incandascents you want.  The light bulb police won’t be coming to arrest people that use them.  Traditional bulbs will still be for sale for awhile, and they can sit on your basement or garage shelf for years if you think that’s the best way to go.

And who knows, you might just end up with a collector’s item some day?

5 thoughts on “The Case For CFL Bulbs”

  1. I disagree with you. I hate CFLs. I don't think they last any longer than the old bulbs. I switched to CFLs in the can lights in my kitchen and regret it. It seems to me they burn out just as often. Also, you can't put CFLs on a dimmer, they don't dim. It's on or off. Maybe LEDs are able to dim, I don't know. And not being able to throw them away is a problem because people will still throw them away.

    If they are so superior then traditional bulbs will be phased out by the free market. no government intervention required.

  2. I bought them to save money, but it is difficult to attribute the savings directly to its use. I do not like that there is a delay till full light. At times, I find the light harsh unlike the incandescent lights.

  3. I agree with Ashley that the free market should decide whether to phase out traditional bulbs. I haven't had a great experience with them for many of the reasons you mentioned. Maybe I'm buying the wrong ones, but when I pay $8.99 for a lightbulb I expect it to last a long time and brighten the room.

  4. Biggest downside I've seen is that regular CFLs don't work with dimmers … and in my house, the biggest arrays of bulbs — kitchen, bathroom, dining room — are on dimmers.

    On an unrelated note, my CAPTCHA word for this comment is "marlite" — possible future brand name for a next-gen CFL?

  5. @superstar – They do make CFLs that are compatible with dimmers but I think they're really expensive.

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