Complace Fluoresent LightCFLs, or compact fluorescent lightbulbs are one of many wonderful ideas that are supposed to save the planet. I became interested in them when I saw a display sign at Wal-Mart that said they would last 5 years. I hate changing light bulbs, so they sounded good for that reason alone. The CFLs cost $6.99 each vs. $0.50 for incandescent.


I did a little reading about these miracle bulbs that burn 5 years. According to several websites, including the EPA’s, CFLs last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy. Sounds like a deal, so I replaced the 18 incandescent light bulbs in my small office with CPLs.

The EPA site said that the CFLs would pay for themselves in 6 months. They are supposed to last 10,000 hours vs 800-1000 hours for an incandescent bulb. That meant I should see about $1.00 reduction in my monthly electricity bill for each CFL I installed.

The result: I saw no noticeable reduction in the monthly electricity bill. The lights in my office were on about 12-14 hours a day, 5 days a week. The CFLs started burning out after 6 months or 1700 hours of usage.

Later I learned the CFLs contain toxic mercury and need special disposal handling. I also found out  if you break one in your house you almost need a has-mat team to come in and clean it up properly.

So energy-efficient light bulbs join the pantheon of stupid, over-hyped, green ideas. They stand alongside hybrid cars, wind power, solar panels, eco-friendly diapers, and any number of green ideas that hardly work and are outrageously expensive.

Maybe if the government passed out some grant money the CFL could be perfected.