Get the facts about CFLs
Use compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) - Save time, energy and money.
CFLs last up to 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. On average, this means only changing a CFL bulb every five to seven years.
CFLs use up to 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, saving about $30 in energy costs over the lifetime of the bulb.
CFLs can be conveniently used where changing a bulb is challenging such as vaulted and high ceilings and stairwells.
- Instant on, quick warm up and great light quality
- Varied sizes and styles for many uses
- Lower operating temperatures generate very little wasted heat reducing the risk of burns
Choose the right CFL
Finding the CFL that will give you the appropriate color and brightness is easy. Energy Star rated CFLs are required to show the incandescent equivalent on the packaging. For instance, if you use a 40-watt incandescent bulb in your fixture, locate a CFL bulb with the package that says "40-watt equivalent." The package will also show the actual wattage of the CFL on it - generally nine to 11 watts for the CFL.
What to do when your CFL burns out or breaks
All fluorescent bulbs require a trace amount of mercury in order to function. The amount of mercury in a CFL is extremely small - about the size of the period at the end of this sentence - and does not pose a direct health risk to you or your family. The bigger concern is the cumulative effects mercury has on the environment. Repeated exposure to large quantities of mercury represents the biggest health risk.
You are more likely to get injured from a broken CFL by way of a cut from the broken glass rather than mercury exposure.
Print a two-sided color Fact Sheet about proper handling of CFLs.
CFLs are safe
CFLs are safe to use in your home - no mercury is released when the bulbs are in use, and they pose no danger when handled properly. Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and is used in many household items, including thermostats, thermometers, batteries and switches for appliances, lights and automobiles.
Where you'll find mercury in your home:
Disposal for residential CFLs
LPC and the City of Longmont are working to keep CFL bulbs out of the landfill.
Instead of throwing away your CFLs when they burnout or break, the best option is to recycle them. Place each bulb in a sealed plastic bag and put them with your other mercury-containing devices, old cans of paint, insecticides and solvents to take to the Boulder County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility.
In Longmont, Home Depot and Ace Hardware collect CFL's for recycling.
Disposal for commercial fluorescent lights
Regulations for commercial fluorescent lighting disposal differ from consumer regulations. According to the federal Universal Waste Rule, fluorescent bulbs used in businesses must be recycled or treated as hazardous waste and are not accepted at landfills with regular trash.
To reduce the risk of bulb breakage and protect yourself from cuts, enclose the CFL bulb in a sealed plastic bag.
If a CFL breaks, your greatest risk is being cut from the glass rather than exposure to mercury. However, to minimize risk even further, follow this procedure:
- Sweep up all fragments - don't vacuum
- Wipe the area with a damp paper towel
- Place the fragments and towel in a plastic bag and seal
- Open windows to ventilate
- Recycle at a local CFL collection point
Where to recycle