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Energy Saving Light Bulbs

What's all this buzz about energy-efficient light bulbs? What's up with these twisty bulbs? Well, they're the newest and greatest innovation in saving money, energy and waste all in one and it's called the compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). CFLs emit the same light as classic incandescents but use a lot less electricity, in addition to saving you the pain of buying hundreds of light bulbs. Instead, you only need a handful.
 
Here's how energy saving light bulbs work: an electric current is driven through a tube containing argon and a small amount of mercury vapor. This generates invisible ultraviolet light that excites a fluorescent coating on the inside of the tube, which then emits visible light, in a much different way than an incandescent, which uses a filament.

According to the EPA, a CFL "will save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb." To translate that into larger numbers, according to ENERGY STAR, if every family replaced just one traditional light bulb in their homes with an energy saving light bulb, enough energy would be conserved to light 3 million homes for an entire year. We'd also save more than $600 million in energy costs! Are you convinced yet?
 
I thought so. Now, I know you're asking where can you find these little environmental gold mines. Nowadays you can get them at any home improvement or big box store, and even grocery stores. If you're switching from plain old incandescents, and not sure what type of energy-efficient light bulb you'll need, check the Environmental Defense Fund's website to help you determine the right bulbs for your home.
 
Here are a few tips on buying these bright beauties:
 
- Make sure to get bulbs that have the ENERGY STAR seal of approval.
- CFLs use about one-fourth of the energy as regular incandescent bulbs, so if you want to replace a traditional 60-watt bulb, look for a CFL that's about 15-watts.
- CFLs too close to radios or computers may cause interference, so make sure there is enough distance between them.
- Maximize the lifetime savings and effectiveness of your CFLs by keeping them on for 15 minutes or more at a time.
 
Photo Credit: flickr/mugofevil

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