Thursday, March 30, 2006

Compact Fluorescent light bulb craze

In an effort to save on the ever increasing electric bill, I decided to try putting a couple of these compact fluorescent bulbs in some lamps around the house. I knew that Doug really didn't like them, but I heard they had improved since they first came out and I was going to see if he could tolerate them. Without mentioning it to him, he came home and immediately said, "What's with the lights? Did you change them to those compact fluorescent bulbs?" They definitely seemed a bit greener and harsher in tint, but not that bad. I said that we should try them for a week and if it was really bad, I would take them out. A week passed and it was tolerable. They are a little slow turning on (1/2 sec as opposed to 5 sec with the old kind), and they always take a good minute before they reached their maximum brightness. I got some more bulbs and starting changing them around the house. I even got new lamps and lampshades for the kid's rooms so we could use more of these bulbs (hmm, spending money to save money, I always get stuck in that trap). I found some Sylvania bulbs at BJ's and thought, gee these are even cheaper! But when I got home and tried them, they were horrible!! Totally bright white and painful to look at. I tried relegating them to the outside garage lights but even that was unbearable. In the end, they went into the basement. So not all compact fluorescent bulbs are created equal. Only GE will do for this family. By this point, Doug had gotten on the bandwagon and was pointing out all the places where we could use these bulbs. In fact, he was almost possessed by it!! In all, we have 16 bulbs in place both inside and outside. Be warned though, on a cold night, it takes a long time for these bulbs to turn on and reach brightness outside.

Then we got a visit from a relative (who shall remain nameless) who hadn't even noticed that these bulbs were any different. But when we mentioned that we switched over to compact fluorescents, they said - oh no, fluorescent lights are bad because they cause osteoporosis. I thought - that is the craziest thing I've ever heard. But out of politeness, I kept my mouth shut and later googled for it. I found a couple sites that bad mouthed fluorescent lights in general (you can always find sites the will bad mouth any topic at all!), but the only links that I found for "osteoporosis and fluorescent lights" said that full spectrum fluorescent lights actually HELP osteoporosis because they foster Vitamin D production and therefore calcium absorption. I assume full spectrum means including UV, which these bulbs are probably not. But they certainly don't hurt!! Of course this just made me fuming mad that this person could hear something so outlandish and just believe it at face value without any scientific thinking and critical judgment applied to it (you don't have to go to MIT to have some common sense). Just because you see it in print doesn't mean it is true. As long as this doesn't interfere with our babysitting, I will just remain mum about it.

Anyway, the electric bill usage seems to be lower these days, so that is a great thing. We don't love the bulbs, but we sure love the savings!

3/31 - And what did we do with all those old light bulbs? I brought them to work and left them on the "swap table" in the cafeteria and then were all gone by lunchtime.


Anonymous said...

Excellent....we have a house full of these things too. We too had an issue with using them in one place or another (places we would read perhaps?), but by choosing "different" bulbs for those "special" places, we found some that worked well in the end.

At one point I found a very inexpensive supply of these at Building 19. They were $0.50 each, and have been in service for probably over 2 years now. (I figured they were defective and would die in months....but for such a good price, I was willing to take the chance...but they are fine!)

Yes, it feels good to save money and save energy as well. (but my frugal...{errr, cheap} nature makes this a no-brainer for me :-)

Dawn said...

You really noticed a decrease on your bill right away? wow.

I'm still on the fence and listening to more people's experiences, but your detail may have pushed me over.

Angela said...

In the last 2 months, we've seen about a 20% drop in our electricity usage. Unfortunately, our rates went way up this year, so the total bill is about the same. Still we are helping to save the environment and saving over what we would've had to pay.

Anonymous said...


I see that this article has been published in the Frugal for Life blog.