Around 1880 Thomas Edison successfully developed a practical incandescent light bulb. His invention has been in use by billions of people around the world ever since. But today, more than 130 years later, as energy prices rise, we are looking for something more energy efficient.
Today we are hearing a lot about the energy saving Compact fluorescent lamp or the CFL light bulb. The swirly bulb has turned into an icon for green. Advertisers use it regularly. They are for sale everywhere we buy bulbs and most of what we hear is just: “use them.” They use around 75% less electricity and that means more money stays in your wallet. But as with all things new and better, there’s always a trade off.
Tom’s bulbs are still the cheapest to buy and are still very useful around the house. In defense of Tom’s bulbs, I like to refer to them as “instant on” bulbs. CFLs take time to warm up. So wherever you need light-in-an-instant, incandescent would be your best choice. Garages, basements, hallways, closets, and infrequently used stairs, fit this category. Stairs in particular need to be safely lit. Need more convincing? CFL’s wear out prematurely when turned on and off frequently so you’re not saving any money here.
Another place where the Edison bulb still reigns is outdoors. CFLs can’t handle the cold or the constant cycling of our Maryland humidity. The little ballast in the CFLs can’t deal with those extremes. There are CFLs that are made for outdoor use but you may need to update your outdoor lighting fixtures to use them. Read the instructions on the package when you buy them.
Another down side of CFLs is that they contain a small amount of mercury in them. This may be a concern in children’s play areas. Not that you’d let your kids play around light bulbs, but a falling lamp will be less of a problem if it’s an incandescent.
Most people are unaware that Tom’s bulbs also produce all the colors of the rainbow if shined through a prism. CFL’s do not produce all the colors of the rainbow when shined through a prism. To some people, this is not a big deal but you cannot properly match clothes in a CFL lit closet. So put an incandescent light bulb in your dressing area. You’ll be glad you did as you step outside each day in your perfectly matched outfit.
So where is the best place for saving money with CFL use?
CFL’s, are best used in places where the lights are left on. Places like; your favorite reading corner, the TV room, hallways in the middle of your home where you want a friendly light, stairs where you leave the light on, and the kitchen. These are the places that will benefit from using energy efficient CFL bulbs.
Remember, no matter which bulb you use, every time you turn on the light say to yourself: “on pay, off free." I know it’s grammatically incorrect but it’s simple and true.