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The light from long lasting bulbs used to be annoying at best.  They all used to have a bluish tint to them — a sort of variation on the greenish tint of cheap fluorescents that cast a Matrix-like greenish pallor over everything —  and they didn’t fit into any of my existing light fixtures, either.  Therefore, I just couldn’t make the leap.

The other day, though, I happened upon a display with the newest energy-efficient bulbs and discovered that manufacturers have softened up the light a great deal.

Maybe it’s time to give these enviro-friendly bulbs a try again.  After seeing the new softer lights and hearing that I wouldn’t have to change the damn bulb for 7 to 9 years, I shelled out $4.50 for a 60 watt that’s actually (conveniently) the same size as normal bulbs and will fit in anything. 

In fact I am writing this post by its light.

I must say before long most of my house will be switched, if for no other reason than the fact that I’m a lazy bastard and love the idea of not having to change them for almost a decade.  If you do the math over the lifespan of the bulb, the higher cost really is worth it.

Hey — I’m a stubborn dude, but it looks like even I’m out of excuses.

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13 Responses to Finds: Energy Efficient Bulbs

  1. nrChris says:

    We have gone to 100% CFL in our new house–in a month or two I will be able to compare the old electric bills to the new ones. I am not expecting a miracle, but I bet the savings will have at least paid for the bulbs.

    Also, they seem to last a lot longer–in our old place there was a pantry light that must have been wired poorly–standard bulbs would only last about a month. And the CFL that we put in lasted the last six months at the apartment. (I took them all with me when we left!)

  2. James says:

    About a year ago I bought a 3-pack of Sylvania 13W compact flourescents and installed them in my living room lamps. They’re brighter than the 60W bulbs they replaced but the light is still very soft. I immediately went out and bought a few more packages to replace most of the other bulbs around the house.

    Electricity is rather expensive here and I calculated that I was saving $2.50 per month for the lights that I used the most. The lights pay for themselves very quickly.

  3. Fletcher says:

    I’ve noticed there’s a little (but noticeable) lag time between switching these bulbs on and them lighting up (as with all fluorescents.) Not normally a problem but annoying enough that, for some applications, I switched back to incandescents. Short hallways, for example. If I’m just passing through and want to do so without crippling myself by tripping over toys, that brief instant the bulbs take to light up represents a large part of my journey down the hallway.

  4. Brian C. says:

    I’ve replaced most of my lights in the house with these over the last year or so. It’s definitely made a dent in my power bill, but I would have to say it’s not a Miracle. But, hey – $10 per month is $120 per year, right?

    I’ve also noticed the ‘lag time’ that Fletcher mentioned. It’s much more noticeable when it’s cold as well. CFLs, when cold, can take up to 5-15 minutes (15 for the cheapies) to reach full operating brightness. This can be annoying, so they aren’t useful in every application.

    On a side note, I hooked up a watt meter to measure power draw on a desk lamp with a normal 60w, normal 100w, CFL 60w and CFL 100w. Amazing differences. Your average normal bulb pulls around 2.5x the wattage to equal what it states. i.e a 100 watt bulb pulls between 200-250 watts of power, the 60w close to 150w! Where does it go? Heat, mostly. Interestingly, most CFLs list what their ‘brightness equivalent’ is and how much power they use. The 100w CFLs I just installed in my shop have a 23w draw. The 60w CFLs in the house are around 15w draw.

    Also of note – I’m in CA and they are constantly offering instant rebates to get people to switch. I just recently bought a package of 4 100w CFLs for $2.99. Original price was $7.99 – instant $5 rebate from SMUD (local power company). Couldn’t beat it. $0.75 per bulb is affordable.

    ALSO of note – since I am in CA – one of our politicians is currently trying to get EVERYONE to switch to CFLs by 2012 or something by making incandescents illegal. LINK: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-6155020.html

    Incandescents are old technology and are wasteful. Congrats on the switch!

  5. kythri says:

    Do your folks CFL’s actually last the advertised time of “years” or not?

    I’ve noticed that a number of different brands of CFL’s that I’ve purchased over the years (I only use incandescent if I’m out of CFL’s – I’ve still got a bunch that were purchased ages ago, and I’m not going to throw them away), in a number of different locations (office, apartments, homes, shops, etc.) and I always notice them blowing out well before the 18^2 year lifespan is up…

  6. CFLs also make it easy to turn an ordinary lamp into a very very VERY bright one:

    Oh, and Brian – I think there’s something wrong with your wattmeter. A hundred watt light bulb really does draw about a hundred watts. That’s why it’s called a hundred watt light bulb :-).

  7. Brian C. says:

    To Daniel Rutter:

    After reading your comment before going to bed, I rushed back out to test it again. Reports from the Watts Up? Pro meter were the same – 247 watt draw on a 100w incandescent – different light, different circuit. Checked a 23w draw 100w CFL – it drew 46w. Hmm…

    I agree with you – the numbers don’t make sense, so I’m going to look into changing my meter.

    I apologize for any confusion my errant post about the wattage results may have caused. I wish there was a way to edit posts here! Either way, if I find different results in the next few days, I’ll post them. In the mean time, I would appreciate it if someone else with a Watt meter posts their findings.

    ~Brian C.

  8. Vincent Ma says:

    Another thing I noticed is that you cannot mix energy saving devices: You cannot use a CFL blub with a dimmer switch. You may also have a hard time using a CFL blub with a motion sensing light switch, like the one I installed in my laundary that leads to the garage. But I love ’em, so except those two every other blub in my house are CFLs. 🙂

  9. marky says:

    We are in the process of changing out our standard bulbs with the CFL’s as they expire. I have one troublesome fixture (above the kitchen sink) where standard bulbs would consistently quit after a couple of weeks of use. It got to a point where I stopped replacing the bulb. After installing a CFL, it has been working for several months. Are there any amature electricians out there that can tell me why this particular fixture was burning out so many bulbs (60w) and why the CFL isn’t having the same problem?

  10. Roscoe says:


    I’ve seen in a few cases a recessed fixture on the first floor of a 2-story house that the incandescent bulbs would last a month or less due to excessive vibration from second-floor traffic or plumbing nearby in the joist cavities. The filament was weak enough to only last a few weeks. I think you backed into a good solution with a CFL, the only other fix I’ve found is to try a premium brand of light bulb (I like Sylvania), or even a “rough-duty” bulb made for a trouble light.

  11. Paul says:

    I bought a bunch of these fluorescent bulbs but they were too big to fit into any of my lamps. If these are the same size as regular bulbs then that would be great. That and incandescent bulbs really do burn out all too often.

  12. Mark says:

    Here is an interesting link to information on a company that is trying to market “LED light bulbs.” If you follow the comments, you’ll also get some information on efficiency of florescent tubes and CFs.


    As an aside, I like the blog in the above link. With respect to energy and environment (and the mess in the MiddleEast), something is going to give soon. We cannot keep using fossil fuels and unfortunately, there is no real viable alternative at this time. I have seen comments that we really need to start conserving in a big way ASAP. The CF bulbs mentioned in this posting are a step in the right direction.

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