Use ENERGY STAR Lighting

Change your bulbs, save a bundle!

Did you know there is a simple project that you can do at home today that will save you money and requires only one trip to the store?

Changing your lighting to ENERGY STAR certified bulbs from incandescent can lower your lighting energy usage by up to 80%. Plus, there are financial incentives available from your utility suppliers.

The guide to choosing your Energy Star light bulb.

Lumens versus watts (AKA how much light do I need?).

Separating myth from fact on CFLs and LEDs: 2014 article from National Geographic.

Pepco: Save up to $7  when purchasing ENERGY STAR certified lighting (Added bonus: up to $10 in rebates when buying ENERGY STAR lighting fixtures.)

BGE: Save up to $7 when purchasing ENERGY STAR certified lighting (Added bonus: up to $10 in rebates when buying ENERGY STAR lighting fixtures.)

Potomac Edison: Save up to $5 when purchasing ENERGY STAR certified lighting (Added bonus: up to $10 in rebates when buying ENERGY STAR lighting fixtures.)

I’ve heard CFLs contain mercury and are bad for the environment. Is that true?

Mercury is a naturally occurring element, and it is also released into our environment through man-made processes like generating electricity from coal-fired power plants. When you use less electricity to light your home you are actually releasing less mercury into our environment. On average, CFLs contain 2.5 milligrams of mercury, or an amount that is the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Over the course of its life a CFL will use less electricity and therefore emit 4.6 milligrams less mercury than the incandescent bulb.

This fact sheet from ENERGY STAR has much more information about mercury and CFLs.

LED bulbs do not contain mercury.

How do I dispose of old CFLs?

Click here to learn about how to dispose of your old CFLs. Many retailers that sell CFLs also collect and recycle the old ones. Check with your local hardware store or your favorite home improvement retailer for more information.

What do I do if I break a CFL?

First, get children and pets out of the room. If you break a CFL open a window and ventilate the area for 15 minutes. Use a dust pan and broom to pick up the big pieces. To get the small pieces of glass, wrap a loop of packing tape, masking tape or duct tape around your hand so the sticky side is out. Then dab the area where the CFL broke. Do not vacuum up the pieces. A step-by-step cleanup guide is available through the EPA.

Doesn’t the light from a CFL or LED just look different than a regular light bulb?

ENERGY STAR bulbs are available in several light temperatures: warm is the same color as light from incandescent bulbs; cool or bright light is good for task lighting; daylight or natural light is very bright and good for reading. You can see pictures of the various color temperatures here on the ENERGY STAR Color and Mood page and find the right light for your lamp.

(2) Comments

  1. Irene Rutter Jan 15, 2012

    CFLs save energy but at what cost to our health and the environment? Do you honestly think that everybody is going to dispose of them properly? Also, they may contain less mercury than other products but because of the number of bulbs used and eventually discarded, there will be far more mercury in the environment than at present.

    Where is everybody’s common sense?

  2. jjones Jun 30, 2015

    You bring up an important point about CFLs and their mercury content. It is important that we dispose of our CFLs properly, particularly our tube fluorescent lighting. Depending on your energy mix (here in Maryland, we’re still pretty coal-reliant on our grid), the mercury impact may be less by using the CFL bulbs. All this being said, the energy efficiency world is very excited to see the drop in price of LEDs. For instance, some local hardware stores, with the help of our EmPOWER Maryland energy efficiency incentives, have LED bulbs for less than $10, or even lower. LEDs are even more efficient, last longer, are dimmable, immediately light up, and do not have the mercury of fluorescent bulbs. To get the best quality bulb, we recommend looking for the ENERGY STAR Label – this ensures 3rd party certification and high quality manufacturing!

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