Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Bright Idea

I just replaced 6 of my old tungsten incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. The box advertises that I'll save $38 per bulb, which would be a savings of $228 for the six bulbs that I just installed. The box says that's based on 10 cents/kWh, but I just opened up my electric bill and after the Illinois rate increase (we had a 9-year rate freeze in the state), which pumped up bills over 40%, I'm paying over 13 cents/kWh. Still, I probably don't use my light bulbs as much as the average consumer, but even if I only get half the savings, that's quite the adjustment! (Addendum: the Phillips box makes it more clear than the GE box that the savings is over the lifetime of the bulb.) I'm planning to buy some more CFB's soon. I know that the bulbs are supposed to last 10 years, but I'm a little concerned because they do contain mercury and the boxes only have a tiny warning on the back that reads "Manage in Accord with Disposal Laws." I'm hoping that before everybody who's switched to CFB's start burning them out in a decade, there's some awareness about those laws.

I did a little research and it turns out that it's hard as heck to figure out where you can get rid of these things safely. I'll list some websites below, but you'll find that there are not many places right now that will take them off your hands and many are very inconvenient. Here's what the FAQ from GE says:

What do I do with a CFL when it burns out? What is the proper disposal of a CFL bulb?Follow these guidelines to dispose your CFL properly:
Like paint, batteries, thermostats, and other hazardous household items, CFLs should be disposed of properly. Do not throw CFLs away in your household garbage if better disposal options exist. To find out what to do first check (where you can find disposal options by using your zip code) or call 1-877-EARTH911 for local disposal options. Another option is to check directly with your local waste management agency for recycling options and disposal guidelines in your community. Additional information is available at Finally, IKEA stores take back used CFLs, and other retailers are currently exploring take back programs.
If your local waste management agency offers no other disposal options except your household garbage, place the CFL in a plastic bag and seal it before putting it in the trash. If your waste agency incinerates its garbage, you should search a wider geographic area for proper disposal options. Never send a CFL or other mercury containing product to an incinerator.
ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs have a two-year warranty. If the bulb fails within the warranty period, return it to your retailer.
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Anonymous said...

Greg Scott=Biggest Nerd I Know!

Anonymous said...

whoever you are anonymous, you are absolutely correct!

Greg said...

Alright, I know who anonymous #1 was, which means I think I know who anonymous #2 is....

Anonymous said...

but who is anonymous #3? Anonymous #3 also agrees with anonymous #1 and anonymous #2.