Did you save your receipt?

We have switched a lot of our lightbulbs to the CFLs to save energy and go green.

Energy Saving Benefits of CFLs

What are the energy saving benefits of CFLs?

Compact Fluorescent’s (CFLs) are four times as efficient as incandescent bulbs, representing a 300% increase in efficiency. For example, a 100W incandescent light bulb will provide the same lighting as a 25W CFL bulb. CFLs last 6-15 times longer with a typical lifespan of 10,000 hours. Cold Cathodes are idea for dimming and last 25,000 hours, vs 1,000 for a incandescent bulb. 90% of electricity entering an incandescent bulb is immediately converted to heat and an incandescent bulb only burn for about 1,000 hours before it has to be replaced. Lighting consumes between 10-15 percent of our home power.

If every home in America replaced one light bulb with an Energy Star compact fluorescent light bulb, it would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, preventing the greenhouse gas emission equivalent to 800,000 cars. Changing one light bulb, really does have an impact.   Green Irene Database

My problem with them is not the bulbs themselves it is that I feel the companies are making money off of their customers too easily. Yes, the bulbs are expensive but that isn’t so much the complaint either. You see, they claim these things are supposed to last 5 years. This one, and many of the others that I have purchased have died long before the 5 years have been up and unless I saved the box and marked the bulb with a date, I can’t prove when I bought it to send it back to the company for a return of either my money or a new bulb. I have talked to other people who have had the same issue with the bulbs. I would have to be incredibly anal to have saved all those boxes, marked them with a date, saved the receipts to prove when I purchased them and where. I’m not that anal and I don’t know anyone who is.

Then there is the issue of disposing of the bulb. The EPA’s site says that some states may require households to recycle their fluorescent bulbs, but I live in VA and recycling is looked upon as a scam so I doubt my state is participating in the “may require” program. When I was “doing” Green Irene, the information they gave us to tell customers was that the amount of mercury in the bulb is only about the size of the end of a pencil and they are not a huge threat to the environment. That said, I just don’t want to put it in my trash and will have to hang onto the burned out bulb until I make a trip to the landfill and hand deliver it to a special area they have designated for those items.

That, and buy a new one. Should I save the box and the receipt? I could be dead in 5 years. Maybe I’ll buy one of those that is supposed to last 20 years and write it into the will for my kids.

2 thoughts on “Did you save your receipt?

  1. CFLs may be the best (and most affordable) energy efficient lighting option out there right now, but the mercury inside does make proper disposal important (it’s amazing that VA doesn’t require CFL recycling!). You might want to check out sites like Earth911.com that let you search for local recycling and take-back options by town and zip code (especially if you don’t want to hang on to old bulbs until the county’s next hazardous waste collection day).

    It’s interesting that most of our mercury exposure is actually from the emissions of coal-fired power plants, so energy efficient lighting can make a big difference in reducing mercury in the environment (by reducing the overall demand for power), but proper end-of-life disposal is a key to making CFLs an environmentally-friendly choice!

    • Thanks for adding more good information to this post for me Mike. I really appreciate the input. I have been asked this question numerous times by folks in my river group, Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. We try to promote, not just river information but BMP’s for all environmental issues and this question comes up there. I have not been an active Green Irene consultant since, well, the beginning. It never seemed to be an accepted concept in this area. I think the demographics have a lot to do with that but I try to be the change that I want to see. Maybe blogging will help get more of the ideas out there. Thanks again!

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