On "The Early Show" Monday, Jason Cochran, of Walletpop.com shared the pros and cons of the bulbs on the market and offered tips for getting the best bang for your buck when you're looking to light up a room.
They are on their way out. You won't be able to buy them in three years.
Incandescents are about 57 cents per bulb, but terribly inefficient, with as much as 90 percent of energy lost as heat, not light. They also require about 4 times as much energy to power as CFLs (40-100 watts vs. 9-25 watts).
Incandescent lamps have a few advantages over CFLs. The color rendition of incandescent lamps is superior to CFLs, though it has greatly improved in CFLs. Incandescents also project light further. This makes them more appropriate for some applications, such as for lighting in high ceilings. Compact fluorescent lamps, however, can also have advantages in high locations. CFLs can be more convenient for hard-to-reach places because they last longer and do not need to be changed as often.
One CFL can burn for 7 years, or 8,000 hours, at a total cost of about $25. They last 10 times longer than standard bulbs.
To get the equivalent in incandescents, you'll have to buy eight bulbs and spend $96. So you save some $70 using CFLs. They also use about one-fourth the energy as incandescents and produce 90 percent less heat, while producing more light per watt.
An ENERGY STAR Qualified Compact Fluorescent Light bulb (CFL) is government-approved with a special seal on the packaging. You can save more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime. It also uses about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and lasts up to 10 times longer and produces about 75 percent less heat, so it's safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling.
LED lights, are even cooler and more efficient, and a single $40 bulb can last up to 23 years. But companies are just now coming out with them. They go on instantly (CFLs warm up) and contain no mercury or lead.
Safety and Light Bulbs:
What precautions should I take when using CFLs in my home?
CFLs are made of glass and can break if dropped or roughly handled. Be careful when removing the bulb from its packaging, installing it, or replacing it. Always screw and unscrew the light bulb by its base (not the glass), and never forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket. If a CFL breaks in your home, follow the clean-up recommendations below. Used CFLs should be disposed of properly (see below).
What should I do with a CFL when it burns out?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that consumers take advantage of available local recycling options for compact fluorescent light bulbs. EPA is working with CFL manufacturers and major U.S. retailers to expand recycling and disposal options. Consumers can contact their local municipal solid waste agency directly, or go to www.epa.gov/bulbrecycling or www.earth911.org to identify local recycling options.
If your state or local environmental regulatory agency permits you to put used or broken CFLs in the garbage, seal the bulb in two plastic bags and put it into the outside trash, or other protected outside location, for the next normal trash collection. Never send a fluorescent light bulb or any other mercury-containing product to an incinerator.
If your ENERGY STAR qualified CFL product burns out before it should, look at the CFL base to find the manufacturer's name. Visit the manufacturer's web site to find the customer service contact information to inquire about a refund or replacement. Manufacturers producing ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs are required to offer at least a two-year limited warranty (covering manufacturer defects) for CFLs used at home. In the future, save your receipts to document the date of purchase.