Change to energy-efficient lightbulbs, 1825°

Saves you sooo much money! And the environment!

94 comments about this action

First I have to get rid of all the dimmer switches.

Yep, I'm a geek. I've been hanging out at the lighting store in preparation for the big switch.

in June 2008

Not all energy efficient light bulbs are born equal. See for the latest comparisons.

in July 2008

Yes, yes, dimmer switches are a pain. Any recommendations on dimmable CFL's?

in July 2008

It took me a couple of months to completely change all of our old fashioned "model-t" incandescent bulbs over to CF. If it has a lamp socket in it, it now has a CF bulb in it at my house. Even the light in the fridge, above the stove, outside @ the front door, hallways, bathrooms, everywhere. My savings are averaging $38 per month ($450 annually) now as compared to before. I found that Sam's has larger bulk packs of the CF bulbs, and that saves a little on the cost. Certain places that have several bulbs, ie, ceiling fans, I use two 13 watt (60 watt incandescent rating) and two 9 watt (40 watt incandescent rating) CF bulbs to fine tune the light brightness. If you do a total lamp socket count first, and start by replacing the ones that get the most use first. As far as dimmable CF lighting? I've not heard of any yet. I would imagine that they could build one that has separate sections for lamps that use three-element bulbs.

in July 2008

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in August 2008

Jason, I was able to change from dimmers to flick switches on my own at a cost of less than $5 per switch. They're much more efficient and it was simple.

in October 2008

Hey, anyone tried LED spots? Was at an enviro fair in Tokyo today and they seem to be the next CFL! Gonna get me some soon.

in February 2009

I replaced the 3 bulbs in my kitchen light fixture with CFL. When I'm sitting at the table, I notice that they flicker at the kitchen table almost incessantly. A friend who has migraines was told by her MD not to use CFL because of this. Anything I can do to stop this?? I don't want to change them back.

in May 2009

This is a flyer I delivered last week

Cellphone towers ………. Are they as bad as CFL light bulbs?

We would like to draw your attention to this report , ignoring the 'political' side of this article, we think you need to research the possible/potential dangers to your children if/when a CFL light bulb breaks in your child’s bedroom/environment. The advice the government and KCDC are giving out is that if a bulb breaks in your home you are to ventilate the room for 15 minutes before cleaning up the broken class, keeping CHILDREN and ‘pregnantees’ away. Well the first 15 minute ventilation will only clear (and that is questionable) the air originally 'contaminated' as the glass and mercury fell through it to the floor. BUT the glass and the area it landed on (your child’s bed?) is still contaminated with microscopic mercury vapor/dust, every time this area or the glass is disturbed it recontaminates the air. KCDC and the governments advice is to "place the contaminated glass in a box or bag and take it to the library or council office”. The only safe way to transport a broken bulb is in a hermetically sealed container.
Unbelievably they also recommend vacuuming up the dust, which contaminates your vacuum cleaner and spews more mercury vapor around your house for the life of the cleaner.
Mercury is accumulative and the more you ingest the more you will have in your body.
Your car will also be contaminated, as the transported broken bulb will continue emitting mercury vapor, into the closed environment you and your children are sitting in. Who can’t work that out?
This should be a concern to parents, more so than a cellphone tower that is for sure (we agree towers should not be in residential areas) Every time a broken light bulb container/bag is moved it contaminates the air, for example, then carrying it into the council office, picture the Charley Brown cartoon character Pig Pen with his cloud of dust. We are ecstatic that the council office is being contaminated, and encourage as many broken light bulbs as possible should be delivered to the fools - as they have advised us to.
…………………………………………………………………DO NOT TAKE THEM TO THE LIBRARY……………………………………………………
We are sad you have been given incorrect information by the Government and KCDC and that you and your children are being placed in harms way.
A govt report is due out in August, yet KCDC is mad keen on getting as many of these toxic bombs as they can above the heads of our children. It is kind of like saying keep taking the thalidomide, until the report comes out in 6 months time.

NB Gerry Brownlee has taken our advice and stopped the banning of the old bulbs. As proposed by labour and the green party.

Some snips from the American report that has ‘stimulated’ this government to take a closer look.

> Well, it was about three months after the bulb actually broke, and we had plastic down on the floor and had ventilated with windows open up there, and had moved my daughter to a different room in the house, and when almost three months later when they came back and removed the carpet, the bag where they had placed the carpet into still had readings higher than the state’s danger level.

But I just believe what the science tells me and it tells me in every piece of literature and every statistic that I’ve read that mercury is not a good thing. The mercury contained in the bulbs is completely different from the mercury our parents used to experiment with at school. That was a liquid form of mercury that has to be ingested before it really harms you, but this powder mercury is inhaled. It goes into the air and vaporizes like a gas, and you inhale it and then it’s absorbed into your lungs. It’s an accumulative metal, it just keeps building and building in your bloodstream, so the more you are exposed to it the sicker you become. <

Robert Atack
Transition Towns Peka Peka
0274 301 574

Also note insurance companies will not pay to decontaminate your house.

in May 2009

Another looming problem we in New Zealand face is the transmission grid, it is close to collapse. No matter what you do at each end of the wire ie wind power of toxic light bulbs, we still are very very dependent on oil and coal powered factories/mining operations around the world to maintain and rebuild our grid.
A couple of local (Wellington) examples are the Haywards distribution complex thingie with its pillions that are 20 years past their designed 'safe' life span, and the electric buses are running on a system that was built 100 years ago.
Also one of the 3 cables across Cook Straight can't be used anymore and one of the others broke down the other day. Even if the Bluff aluminum smelter was shut down 'we' couldn't move the 'saved' electricity north.

Take care of reality, or reality will take care of us.

in May 2009

Trying to organize schools to sell these low energy bulbs as their fund-raising activity instead of the kids selling candy, pizza kits or expensive non-green wrapping paper.

in May 2009

I also try to use only on light after dark and often use candles.

in May 2009

Lisa A
I've broken 1 bulb while removing it, and one rolled off a shelf and shattered, also everyone that I've posted to parliament or the local council has broken in the mail ... mind you a paper bag may not be the best protection. It is legal to post these things, shame the postal system is now contaminated with mercury dust, I like to get the free ones, way under wrap them then post them to the people responsible for this fiasco. Address please . na just joking, it is the ones at the top I want held to account.

in May 2009

FYI Lisa
I rang one of the woman protesting a cellphone tower across the street from her house in Titahi Bay , she was upset at the 'danger' the tower might cause her children, also the down valuing of her house (this may have been her biggest motivation?) anyway I told her the potential dangers to her children if a bulb broke in her house. It turned out one had broken over a carpeted area (now saturated with mercury dust) in the hall where her 3 under 5 year olds crawled regularly. Is that avoidable potential danger worth the up to $35.00 a year saving of electricity on average per house hold? Or is the cellphone tower a bigger risk? Keeping in mind at some stage the area in the hall would have had mercury readings higher than govt permitted levels in a land fill or toxic clean up. And these levels could have been high for months.
I don’t have children so it is not an issue for me, but in all fairness shouldn’t concerned parents be aware and informed? Just trying to do the right thing here.

in May 2009

A toxic squiggly light bulb in your house will 'save'1/12th of a kW at best if run for 4 hours per day.
We average something like 1,500 bulbs worth per day per person (if my back of the envelope calculations are correct),
for a family of 4 = 6,000 bulbs running for 4 hours.
Reminds me of the old joke, if you run behind a bus you save 20 cents a kilometer, or run behind a taxi and save $2.00.
Has CNN worked it out?
PS I'm just a dumb builder so may have those numbers wrong, it might be worse;)

Let's get real about alternative energy

* Story Highlights
* David MacKay: Replacing fossil fuels will take a massive level of construction
* He says most people don't understand the size and scope of the effort needed
* Turning off cell phone charger is a minuscule contribution to saving energy, he says
* He says hydrogen-powered cars use too much energy to solve the problem

Editor's note: David MacKay is a professor of physics at the University of Cambridge. His book, "Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air," is published by UIT Cambridge and is also available in electronic form for free from

David MacKay says people engage in wishful thinking about energy because they don't look at the math.

(CNN) -- We need to introduce simple arithmetic into our discussions of energy.

We need to understand how much energy our chosen lifestyles consume, we need to decide where we want that energy to come from, and we need to get on with building energy systems of sufficient size to match our desired consumption.

Our failure to talk straight about the numbers is allowing people to persist in wishful thinking, inspired by inane sayings such as "every little bit helps."

Assuming we are serious about getting off fossil fuels, the scale of building required should not be underestimated. Small actions alone will not deliver a solution.

Let's express energy consumption and energy production using simple personal units, namely kilowatt-hours. One kilowatt-hour (kWh) is the energy used by leaving a 40-watt bulb on for 24 hours. The chemical energy in the food we eat to stay alive amounts to about 3 kWh per day. Taking one hot bath uses about 5 kWh of heat. Driving an average European car 100 kilometers (roughly 62 miles) uses 80 kWh of fuel. With a few of these numbers in mind, we can start to evaluate some of the recommendations that people make about energy.

Take, for example, the idea that one of the top 10 things you should do to make a difference to your energy consumption is to unplug your cell-phone charger when you are not using it. The truth is that leaving a phone charger plugged in uses about 0.01 kWh per day, 1/100th of the power consumed by a lightbulb.

This means that switching the phone charger off for a whole day saves the same energy as is used in driving an average car for one second. Switching off phone chargers is like bailing the Titanic with a teaspoon. I'm not saying you shouldn't unplug it, but please realize, when you do so, what a tiny fraction it is of your total energy footprint.

In total, the European lifestyle uses 125 kWh per day per person for transport, heating, manufacturing, and electricity. That's equivalent to every person having 125 light bulbs switched on all the time. The average American uses 250 kWh per day: 250 light bulbs.

And most of this energy today comes from fossil fuels. What are our post-fossil-fuel options?

Among the energy-saving options, two promising technology switches are the electrification of transportation (electric vehicles can be about four times as energy-efficient as standard fossil-fuel vehicles) and the use of electric-powered heat pumps to deliver winter heating and hot water (heat pumps can be four times as energy-efficient as standard heaters).

Among all the energy-supply technologies, the three with the biggest potential today are solar power, wind power and nuclear power.

As a thought-experiment, let's imagine that technology switches and lifestyle changes manage to halve American energy consumption to 125 kWh per day per person. How big would the solar, wind and nuclear facilities need to be to supply this halved consumption? For simplicity, let's imagine getting one-third of the energy supply from each.

To supply 42 kWh per day per person from solar power requires roughly 80 square meters per person of solar panels.

To deliver 42 kWh per day per person from wind for everyone in the United States would require wind farms with a total area roughly equal to the area of California, a 200-fold increase in United States wind power.

To get 42 kWh per day per person from nuclear power would require 525 one-gigawatt nuclear power stations, a roughly five-fold increase over today's levels.

I hope these numbers convey the scale of action required to put in place a sustainable energy solution. What about tidal power? What about wave power? What about geothermal energy, biofuels or hydroelectricity? In a short article, I can't discuss all the technology options.

But the sober message about wind and solar applies to all renewables: All renewables, much as I love them, deliver only a small power per unit area, so if we want renewable facilities to supply power on a scale at all comparable to our consumption, those facilities must be big.

If you don't want to build 1 million wind turbines, you can drill 1 million geothermal boreholes instead.

Before I close, I would like to say a few words about the idea that "the hydrogen economy" can magically solve our energy problems. The truth is that, in energy terms, today's hydrogen-powered vehicles don't help at all. Most prototype hydrogen-powered vehicles use more energy than the fossil-fuel vehicles they replace. The BMW Hydrogen 7, for example, uses 254 kWh per 100 km, but the average fossil car in Europe uses 80 kWh per 100 km.

In contrast, electric vehicles use far less energy: as little as 20 kWh per 100 km, or even 6 kWh per 100 km. The problem with hydrogen is that both the creation and the use of hydrogen are energy-inefficient steps. Adopting hydrogen as a transport fuel would increase our energy demand. And, as I hope the numbers above have shown, supplying energy to match our demand is not going to be easy.

The public discussion of energy options tends to be emotional, polarized, mistrustful and destructive. I hope that focusing attention on the numbers may make it possible to develop honest and constructive conversations about energy.

It's not going to be easy to make a energy plan that adds up, but it is possible. We need to get building.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David MacKay.

in May 2009

This just confirms what I've been saying - our grid is way over stretched and old, 'the powers that be' seem to be ignoring this, focusing on flash new projects while the infrastructure needed to support these new projects is falling to bits. The grid is so very dependent on oil and coal dependent factories overseas, not to mention all the minerals etc that need diesel dependent machinery to be mined.IE copper.
James Weir had a good laugh at me in the DOM about 5 years ago because I was promoting the unthinkable idea that the world was about to peak in oil extraction, what goes around come around)

Overused power system 'being flogged to limit'
By JAMES WEIR - The Dominion Post
Last updated 05:00 20/05/2009
Relevant offers
The power system is "being flogged to the limit" and there is not enough back-up generation, according to one critic after the national grid between the North and South Island was cut again for repairs.
South Island hydro power lakes are flush with too much water but are cut off from supplying North Islanders who are facing sky-high wholesale power prices because part of the grid has been shut down.
Transpower cut the high voltage direct current link between the South and North Island yesterday to repair overheated lines between Oteranga Bay on the Cook Strait coast and Haywards near Wellington. The work on Pole 2 was finished late yesterday afternoon, but critics said the shutdown showed the 40-year old system was being "flogged to the limit" and could lead to power failures as happened in Auckland in February.
Wholesale power prices are virtually nothing in the South Island after the heaviest rain for about 11 years, but prices are about $60 to $70 a megawatt hour in the North Island, hitting big customers buying on the spot market.
The loss of the HVDC link yesterday was made worse because Contact Energy's 380-megawatt TCC station is also out of action for routine maintenance. Lake Taupo, which feeds hydro stations on the Waikato River, is also relatively low. The TCC plant is expected to be back in operation later this week, owner Contact Energy said.
Transpower had removed Pole 2 of the link about 3am yesterday after some of the joins in the line became overheated, which prevented the current flowing properly and put increasing heat and stress on the line.
In April, the transmission line was out of action for a week after a fault at Benmore, again preventing South Island power getting to the North Island.
The HVDC overhead high power lines run along the Wellington coast in a harsh environment with sea spray affecting conductors on the lines.
Independent energy consultant Bryan Leyland said the HVDC overheating problem could cause power lines to burn down, as they did in Auckland earlier this year.
"The lines are 40 years old and it is in a climatically filthy area with lots of sea spray, and these things are going to happen in an old system that has been run fairly hard," he said. The issue was serious because there was so little reserve generation capacity, Mr Leyland said.
"The power system has been run too hard and flogged to the limit for far too long," he said.
Transpower's chief executive Patrick Strange said the failure was not about the age of the overhead lines, but he agreed they had been run hard because of the high rainfall in the South Island.
Pole 2 was carrying nearly 700 megawatts of power much of the time, which was a record level.
Meanwhile, state-owned Meridian Energy is spilling water at all its hydro power lakes in the South Island after recent heavy rain, because they could not send the power north.

in May 2009

Sorry for all the long posts, but just like in 1999 -2000 when I/we predicted Peak Oil (conventional) would happen in 2005 (now history), it takes a lot of information to counter any arguments. People can chuck out dumb arse statements, like "abiotic oil" or "hydrogen economy", and the dreamers latch on to them like drowning people. This has happened with the CFL light bulbs, we have all been coned.
Anyway this essay goes a long way to explaining the situation. I suggest you remove all CFLs from your children's environment and post then to parliament, while it is still legal to place toxic substances in the mail.

The Truth About Compact Fluorescent Lights

Instead of saving our environment CFLs are destroying it.

Here is the truth about Compact Fluorescent Lights.

CFLs increase your carbon footprint in a ‘cradle to grave’ analysis. Full costs to make and safely dispose of a CFL have never been published.
We could save a lot more energy, for a lot less money, in other areas. Residential lighting takes up only .8% of energy consumption in Canada.
CFLs contain harmful amounts of mercury. Hundreds of millions of bulbs will end up in our landfills and poison our environment.
CFLs emit harmful levels of Electromagnetic Radiation. Thousands of people are made ill from exposure each year.

CFLs, aka, Chronic Fatigue Lights, use more energy than a regular light bulb, they threaten your health with mercury and electromagnetic radiation, and your government is forcing you to use them. Starting in the year 2012, regular incandescent bulbs, the ones invented by Thomas Edison over 100 years ago, will be banned in Canada. The electrical industry, the government and environmental groups such as the Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace have formed an unholy alliance, promoting CFLs, while ignoring irrefutable environmental and health risks.

What it boils down to is CFLs are toxic technology. Let’s not forget the mercury contamination, the ultraviolet radiation, the radio frequency radiation and the dirty power a compact fluorescent creates when in use. Multiply that by one billion CFL’s thrown into landfills worldwide and we have a perfect recipe for a global environmental catastrophe

Meanwhile in the land down under: the New Zealand Government, citing concerns about CFLs lack of efficiency and safety, has lifted its ban on incandescent bulbs. Hopefully our government will see the wisdom in this decision and follow suit.

A ban on regular light bulbs will mean we will have no alternative but to use CFLs almost exclusively. Evidence shows the compact fluorescent light is an energy hog and is one of the most dangerous technologies to be foisted upon consumers since the cellular telephone.

Industry, government and environmental groups, Los Tres Amigoes

Someone once said: “The environment is too important to be left solely to the environmentalists.” This is a case in point where we have left environmental organizations that are at best ill informed, or at worst corrupt, to make decisions for us regarding the energy savings and safety of compact fluorescent lights. Environmental Groups like the Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace are being used by CFL producers to provide third party endorsements to create a favourable image of a potentially toxic product. Our health and safety officials seem to be asleep at the switch, oblivious of the hazards, while manufacturers and sellers of CFLs are laughing all the way to the bank. With impunity “los tres amigoes” are leaving misled consumers to deal with the aftermath of a potential environmental catastrophe.
What is the real energy cost of a CFL? What does it cost to Mine, Manufacture, Package, Ship, Sell, Operate, Dispose and Remediate the Environment? Moreover how do you put a cost on destroyed lives and human health?
Reducing your carbon footprint is the CFL’s raison d’etre. But before you decide to switch over to compact fluorescent lights it would be wise to first review an overall-- from cradle to grave—analysis of the carbon footprint of a CFL, compared to an incandescent bulb, to be sure you are doing the right thing. One study conducted in Denmark, examined some carbon footprint factors, but not all, showed it took 1.8 Kwh of electricity to assemble a CFL compared to .11 Kwh to assemble an incandescent bulb. That means it took 16 times more energy to produce a CFL.
See these tests: Link1>> Link2>>
This study did not include the fact a CFL is much heavier and is more dangerous to handle will thus cost more to package, to ship, and to sell. This research also did not calculate the energy required to safely dispose of a CFL. If they had, common sense tell us s it would take hundreds of times more energy than an incandescent bulb.
Also, to be fair, we must factor in the costs of removing the mercury from our landfills and the cost in destroyed lives, illnesses, and lost human potential. If such a study could be done that took in all the above factors, it would show a CFL has a massive carbon footprint, one that would dwarf a regular incandescent light bulb and that would also show CFLs leaving a wake of environmental destruction to boot.
CFLs: Hundreds of millions are spent trying to save a fraction of our energy consumption.
To put your lighting energy consumption into perspective, lets look at the Sector Sustainability Tables listed in the Government of Canada website. Our homes consume 16% of all the energy used in Canada, with our lights using 5% of that. When you do the math you find residential lighting represents .8 percent of the total energy consumption in Canada. Wow! We are spending billions of dollars in the wrong place, in a fruitless effort reduce a fraction of our energy consumption. It would be much ‘power smarter’ to focus on water heating than light bulbs. Your electric hot water tank consumes five times as much electricity as your lights. If we made our hot water heating 10% more efficient by using inexpensive technology already available, we would save as much energy as we would by switching completely over to compact fluorescent lights. It would be cheaper, simpler, and have less detrimental environmental effects. These are simple observations that have seemed to have eluded our sustainable energy gurus.
Lighting is a fraction of all our overall energy consumption and has a limited potential for energy savings. Nevertheless, we should be conserving wherever we can. At the same time we should not forget that switching our incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lights poses a whole range of negative environmental and health impacts with very little, if any, real energy savings.
Residential lighting takes up .8% of energy consumption in Canada
CFLs have energy losses during operation which you are not told about; losses that eliminate any energy savings over an incandescent light.
An incandescent light has a power factor of 1. On average a CFL has a power factor of .6. That means there are 40% energy losses in operating the CFL. This does not show up on your power bill but the power company has to supply 40% more power than what the bulb is rated for. This translates into higher electrical bills for everyone as the power company spreads out their losses to recoup their lost revenue. CFLs could take twice as much energy to operate than what is on the label, and still be listed as an energy star product.
This is something their promoters have neglected to tell us and this is never added to their energy consumption calculations.

Vancouver Sun, Feb 17, 2009. BC Hydro; “Energy efficient bulbs increase greenhouse gases. Because they burn cooler, they cause home heating to rise,” utility reports.
Hydro also states that “lighting regulations (banning incandescent lights) will increase GHG emissions in Hydro’s service territory by 45,000 tons due to cross effects of a switch to cool-burning bulbs.”
The ‘cross effect’ BC Hydro is referring to is the loss of heat from hotter incandescent bulbs when we switch over to cooler burning CFLs. To make up for the lost heat we now have to turn up our electric heat, or worse, our oil or gas furnace which will leave us consuming more energy sometimes creating more green house gases than before we made the switch. In the summertime because of our longer days both lighting and heating are used much less so the general rule still applies.
For the moment let us just consider a CFL’s carbon footprint during its operation. When you take in losses due to the lower power factor as well as the heating energy losses in colder climates, using compact fluorescent lights will not reduce your carbon footprint when compared to a regular light bulb. In fact there is good evidence that shows that using CFLs will increase your carbon footprint.
Mercury in CFLs poison workers, consumers and their environments.

More than 60,000 children are born each year in the United States with neurodevelopment impairments caused by exposure in the womb to methylmercury compounds, according to new estimates by an expert panel convened by the National Academy of Science’s Year 2000.

Each compact fluorescent lamp contains about 5 milligrams of elemental mercury as well as other poisonous gases. When mercury enters water, biological processes change the chemical form to methylmercury, which is the organic, more toxic form found in fish. Methylmercury bioaccumulates through the food chain and once in the body can affect the fetal and adult nervous systems.

Don’t count on methylmercury staying down in landfills or staying in one place, as it easily gets transported through the water table. Beware if you break a CFL. Each broken lamp is a toxic spill and much care should be taken cleaning them up. Throwing hundreds of millions of them into landfills will contaminate the soil, the water table and eventually the air.

The manufacturing of CFLs also exposes workers to toxic levels of mercury. They are made mostly in China with virtually no health, safety, or environmental protection regulations. Ironically, most of the electricity used to manufacture CFLs comes from very dirty coal fired generators. As things stand today, mercury exposure to workers, to electricians and installers, to consumers, to water, and to the living environment, goes almost unchecked.

How many Resources and Pollutants does it take to make a light bulb?
“More than it should. The reality is, even energy-efficient products don’t always come from energy-efficient beginnings. Consider for a second what goes into producing, powering and transporting products around the world efficient light bulbs. Until they’re manufactured in a carbon-neutral way, transported on low-emission vehicles and powered in our homes by cleaner energy—green products will never be as green as they can be.” World Wild Life Fund, MacLean’s Jan 19/09.

Most mainstream environmentalists ignore these facts and instead claim that CFLs have less mercury than what would have been launched into the environment via a smoke stack to create the additional electricity for regular light bulbs. This is not true. If all electricity was generated by dirty burning coal fired plants this might be possible but this is really an irrelevant point when you consider coal fired power plants could operate with 80% less mercury emissions. The problem is that there are no regulations to force the industry to cleanup its act. In any event, it does not apply to BC where 85 % of our electrical power comes from hydroelectric dams. In Canada, 58% of electrical generation is from hydro and 19% from coal.

What this all adds up to is CFLs are toxic technology. Let’s not forget the mercury contamination, the ultraviolet radiation, the radio frequency radiation and the dirty power a compact fluorescent creates when in use. Multiply that by one billion CFL’s thrown into landfills worldwide and we have a perfect recipe for a global environmental catastrophe
CFLs emit harmful levels of electromagnetic radiation

CFLs emit electromagnetic radiation, a type of energy that can make us very sick. Many people have reported skin rashes and irritation due to UV Radiation. Radio frequency radiation is even more of a concern. The effects of exposure to radio frequency radiation, as well as to high voltage spikes and transients, all known to cause illness, are virtually ignored by environmental groups and green building consultants.
There has been a ‘rash’ of health problems associated with exposure to electromagnetic radiation such as that emitted by CFLs. In Sweden, according to polls, up to 290,000 people or more than 3% of the population have reported suffering symptoms of EHS when exposed to electromagnetic radiation. Symptoms range from joint stiffness, chronic fatigue, headaches, tinnitus, respiratory, gastric, skin, sleep and memory problems, depressive tendencies, to Alzheimer’s disease and all classes of cancer.

Form cradle to grave, CFLs pose a danger to people’s health and well being, as well as adding even more toxicity to our beleaguered earth. They do not reduce our carbon footprint, and may even increase it in some situations. To make matters even worse they emit harmful levels of electromagnetic radiation.

Hope for the future

Other than the World Wildlife Fund almost all the major environmental groups have ignored these warnings of harmful effects. This could greatly diminish these groups credibility, as the public questions what sort of perhaps unsavoury relationships they have with big business.

The New Zealand government has changed its mind and has lifted its ban on incandescent lights due to concerns about safety and energy efficiency of the CFLs.. The fact that Germany has already restricted the use of fluorescent lighting in public places and has banned fluorescent lights in hospitals shows us that this issue is too great to be shrugged off and ignored.

In North America it appears we are headed in the opposite direction. The Canadian Federal government plans to ban all incandescent lights before year 2012. For Wal-Mart business is booming. They sold 100 million compact fluorescent lights in the first 9 months of 2007.

Soon, prices of LED lighting will start to come down and new OLED light fixtures will be introduced. There are incandescent light bulbs on the market right now that last longer than CFLs and are 80% more efficient than a regular bulb. In 2010, surprisingly just as the market gets saturated with CFLs, General electric is coming out with a new high efficiency incandescent bulb. They claim it will be twice as efficient as a regular bulb.

If they live up to their claims these new incandescent lights will rival CFLs for energy consumption, but will not have all the other environmental problems. Then another buying craze will begin and the producers will be laughing all the way to the bank again. Then CFLs may begin to be phased out, leaving behind a long-term problem of mercury disposal, remediation, and a so far untold toll on human health.
In the meantime, the best way for you to reduce your carbon footprint is to follow your mother’s advice and turn the lights off when you leave the room.


Walt McGinnis is an electrician and an Electromagnetic Radiation Tester and a member of the EM Radiation Task Force, living in Saanich, BC
250 6525606

in May 2009

I have been doing this for a long time!

in September 2009

dimmer switches are a pain

in November 2009

I put in CFL floods in cans in my kitchen a year ago. It actually gives me a thrill to know that my entire kitchen (9 lights) is brighter with 142 watts than it used to be with 1350 - and in the Summer I'm not creating all that extra load for the air conditioner..!

in November 2009

I have replaced almost all the lights in my house with CFL, and now I am replacing those with LEDs.

in November 2009

Done everywhere except the bathroom,which infortunately takes those big clear globe lights. Any suggestions for it?

in May 2010

If you live in NZ get your region involved with There are so many amazing organisations out there creating initiatives to help everyone care for our Environment

in July 2010

I've also changed CF lights into LED ones after hearing that LED lights last 10 times longer than CFLs and they don't contain mercury. Gone one step further and purchased the Miniwiz Solarbulbs - been converting used plastic bottles into solar powered LED lamps for the garden. :D

in September 2010

I have tried "dimmable" CFLs. They seem to work so poorly that they are just very expensive CFLs. I have LED front porch & house-number lights they are powered by a switching wall power supply. The number light used to be a bayonet-base automobile light on a transformer. The porch light was a 35 W sodium. Also I have an LED light that I use to light my computer area.

in February 2011

I have been doing this for a long time.

in August 2011

When I renovated my old house (1820s) ten years ago, I had "cans" (recessed ceiling fixtures) installed along the walls that were designed for CFLs. I forget what the difference in the fixture design is, but apparently, that's what you should specify if you're putting in those sort of fixtures. The lamps I installed at the beginning are still operating (after ten years).
I think the concern over mercury in the bulbs is a bit overblown. Most of the mercury found in human bodies can be traced to fish consumption, especially large fish like tuna. The fish acquire the mercury though the oceanic food chain and emissions from coal-fired power plants. Reducing electricity demand through conservation and efficiency (including but not limited to the use of CFLs) allows the retirement of obsolete coal fired power stations and the introduction of distributed renewable power sources, thus reducing the amount of mercury spewed into the air.

in January 2012

Totally agree with Michael O... I think much of the concern about mercury in CFLs doesn't consider that energy production using coal-fired generation plants creates a far higher risk of mercury exposure. The quantity of mercury in a CFL is pretty minimal, so risk is pretty insignificant from breaking a single bulb (though I would still say proper precautions should be taken when cleaning up a broken bulb)...

I've been using CFLs in all of my fixtures for about 3 years, and haven't broken a bulb yet (but have seen the difference in my utility bill)!

I can't wait to see the price of LED options come down so we can eliminate that concern entirely though.

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