Compact Fluorescent Lights

cf_bulb.jpgWe’ve all heard the statistics: if every person in the US would replace their incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs, it would be the equivalent of taking dozens of gas-guzzling SUVs off the road. Less energy use, less greenhouse gas, and a happier planet. It sounds good to me, so I have replaced nearly all the bulbs in my home.

I wish we’d gotten rid of the SUVs instead.

The aesthetics of CF bulbs leave a lot to be desired; this rant¬†sums it up better than I ever could. Still, to save the planet, I’d live with the strange colors, the wait for them to come to full brightness, and the annoying buzzing. I think, though, we might actually be doing Mother Earth a disservice.

In the past year, at least five of my compact fluorescent bulbs have burned out. Far more than I would have expected of incandescent bulbs, in spite of the loud claims of extended life. Of course, they all have five- to nine-year guarantees and if I had the original dated cash register receipt and packaging for each bulb and if I were willing to pay postage to return them I might be able to get them replaced for not much more money than buying a new one at the store. In the mean time, I’m certain that their manufacture created far more pollution than for an equivalent incandescent bulb, and proper disposal of the mercury-containing CFs is much more expensive than for standard bulbs. Most people, I suspect, chuck ’em in the trash and the mercury and other toxic metals leach their way slowly toward our drinking water.

Happier planet? I’m not so sure.

Ron Р26 Jul 2007