Dear Heather and Ivy,
What’s all the hoopla about these new-fangled light bulbs? Can I use them in any lamp / fixture that I have? How much do they cost? Will they really save me money? What makes them different than the bulbs I’m using now?
In the dark
Ah, CFLs vs. incandescent bulbs. CFLs are the greener option, and they do save you money even though they do cost more up front. I generally try to wait until I find a sale and often, you can find your local power company giving them away. My first CFLs were from a giveaway at a local festival. Here’s a good post from Get Rich Slowly about the cost and cost savings of CFL bulbs. Also, here’s one sponsored by a power company that has some good info.
My biggest concern about the bulbs was, what if I break one? Grace is not my middle name, so I was pretty concerned about this. CFL bulbs contain mercury, so I wondered if I’d need a hazmat team to come out and clean up every time I broke one. Fortunately, Not Martha learned how to deal with this because she’s apparently as graceful as I am. She links to the EPA’s guidelines for disposal where the key factors include properly ventilating the area, not running any central heat or conditioning during clean up, and following your local guidelines for disposal of the waste once it has been contained.
I’ve installed CFL bulbs in most of my light fixtures and I have to say, I like them. Make sure you’re getting the right type for your light fixtures, and stick with the warm light CFLs whenever possible. I’ve noticed a nice savings from mine.