Why can’t I throw my lightbulbs away?

Why is it that I have extra CFL’s in the laundry room and yet I can’t bring myself to remove my incandescents until they burn out? The evidence is so clear and here I am acting like it’s the great depression and I need to be saving tin foil. Any suggestions for me to move on and follow the advice below?

Feb. 25, 2008 | Dear Pablo,

Should I discard my still-working standard incandescent bulbs and replace them with compact fluorescents, or wait until they die a natural death and then replace them?

There are several reasons to get rid of those incandescent bulbs and replace them with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Incandescent bulbs turn less than 5 percent of the electricity they use into light; the rest is wasted heat. Besides being annoyingly inefficient, this can increase summertime air-conditioning costs and present a higher risk of fire. http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/02/25/ask_pablo_lightbulbs/index.html

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3 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. Rudy- Thanks for commenting. What do you recommend at this point. If you’re nor fond of CFL’s do you recommend LED’s? Sticking with incandescents? Some other product I’m not yet aware of?

  3. Most CFLs today on the market contain less than 5mgs of mercury and there are CFL options out there that contain as little as 1.5mgs of mercury- which can hardly be called a “significant amounts of mercury” considering that many item in your home contain 100s of times more of mercury including your computer. Mercury levels in CFLs can never be “nonexistent” since mercury is a necessary component of a CFL and there is no other known element that is capable of replacing it. But CFLs actually prevent more mercury from entering the environment. According to the Union of Concerned Scientist, “a coal-fired power plant will emit about four times more mercury to keep an incandescent bulb glowing, compared with a CFL of the same light output”.

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