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CFL Bulb
On Sunday, April 22nd, Home Depot is celebrating Earth Day by giving away free compact fluorescent lightbulbs to one million customers that visit any Home Depot store.  According to the ‘Depot, switching out a million bulbs for CFLs would generate $12 million in energy savings and a 196,000,000 pound reduction in CO2 emissions next year.

Free is the best deal of all, and we offer a hearty thumbs-up to Home Depot for this thoughtful Earth Day promotion. 

Earth Day CFL Giveaway [Home Depot]
April 22nd 2007 [Earth Day]


8 Responses to Dealmonger: Free Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs At Home Depot This Sunday

  1. Ed says:

    Free? That’s great. But before everyone runs out on Sunday to get our hands on one, maybe first take the time to read this April 2007 article from the “American Thinker” about CFLs (http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/04/ban_the_bulb.html). Is the article one-sided? Maybe, maybe not. It’s always good to think for yourself and Google is your friend.

    Cherry-picking some of the article’s main points (those will be inside the quotes), along with some comments by me:

    — “There are about 4 billion conventional screw-in light bulb sockets in America; the vast majority are in homes and apartments. Most of the sockets are filled with Incandescent light bulbs, with about 2 billion or more of those replaced every year. It’s estimated at least $15 billion of electricity is consumed by incandescents; replacing them with more energy efficient types of lightbulbs would cut that in half”.

    That’s good! It’s always nice to save a buck when you can.

    — “Kilowatt useage would be reduced, needing fewer coal-fired power generating plants, winning a major battle against global warming” (those CO2 emissions mentioned by Home Depot).

    First fallacy? From the article – “Conveniently overlooked is the obvious fact that household lightbulbs are primarily used at night — exactly opposite the time of day in which utilities experience peak load demands … Reducing nighttime lightbulb consumption of kwhs will do almost nothing to shave peak demand … with non-peak kwhs reduced at night, utilities will now have fewer revenues on which to earn a return on their invested capital … equipment that has to be paid for 24 hours a day. Thus, utilities will have to raise rates on the remainder of the kwhs we use for everything else”.

    Uh oh, so much for saving that buck. But hey, I’ve got to think about my grandkids’ futures. Money out of my pocket today doesn’t mean anything if their future includes the devastation resulting from global warming, right? I’m sure that with the non-reduction in peak loads the utilities and/or energy companies and/or the U.S. government are going to start shutting down the U.S. coal-fired plants in order to give us that 196,000,000 pounds of CO2 emissions reduction Home Depot talks about. Yeah right. But wait, maybe the Chinese can help us out there!

    — Why the Chinese? “Because not a single CFL is produced in the U.S.” You think maybe they’re made in China? “As Chinese manufacturers add enough manufacturing capacity to [meet the demand for] CFLs , they will need several new coal-fired power plants to run the new factories. This comes on top of the already breathtaking pace today of construction in coal fired electric power plants in China – at a clip of one new plant every week. Don’t even think about asking about what kind of pollution control will be operating on those Chinese plants”.

    Oh well. So much for my grandkids being able to breathe and see the sun. Never did like the little brats anyways. [Note to self: insert smiley face here]

    — “… since the new CFLs produce inferior light compared to incandescents, we’ll need more of them to read, shave, comb our hair and brush our teeth”.

    You ever tried to read under a CFL? In my reading lamp I replaced the 150-watt incandescent with a 100-watt rated CFL that only draws 60 watts (it was the biggest I could buy, more about that in a moment). The first time I opened a book under the new bulb it took only about 10 seconds before I’m thinking, “Man, what’s wrong with my eyes?”. Then the light bulb went off, so to speak. The new, save-the-world CFL I just forked out the big bucks for just wasn’t putting out the lumens my eyes needed. I know, you’re thinking “the idiot changes out a 150 to only a 100 and then whines about it being too dim”. Well, three months ago in my locale (Colorado Springs, CO) that 100-watt CFL was/is the biggest available. I went to several big box stores and NOBODY had anything bigger. When I asked why, the responses ranged from “They don’t make them any bigger” to “What’s a CFL?” to “Yes they make them but we won’t stock them because who is going to pay that much for a light bulb?”. The morale of the story is: Replace one incandescent with TWO CFLs.

    This last is what I think is the highlight of CFLs:

    — “CFLs contain mercury … up to 5 milligrams per lightbulb. [CFLs] can’t operate without mercury. If all 4 billion incandescent sockets were filled with CFLs we’d have 20 billion milligrams of mercury spread around every single US household. By the way, 20 billion milligrams is nearly 50,000 pounds … will eventually find its way to your favorite landfill and public drinking water supply”.

    Damn, I quit eating fish years ago becase of all the mercury scares. Now I’ve got two potential toxic waste incidents hovering over my shoulder everytime I sit down to read the TV Guide to see when Oprah is on! Another note to self: Maybe it’s time to cut back on the Jack D. intake so I don’t stagger into the reading lamps and knock one over. I’d hate to have to call on the local HazMat team to take care of the mercury spill. Wonder what they’d charge for that? Note to wife: Don’t invite the grandkids over anymore. With all their constant running around it’s only a matter of time before they take out those lamps. What’s that you say? Me clean up the broken bulb!! Think again lady, no way. They break a bulb, I’m on with the gear (http://toolmonger.com/2006/11/11/finds-triton-powered-respirator/) and I’m out of here to find another place to live.

    CFLs are going to save us huh? Maybe all of us should weigh the short- and long-term benefits (and what seems to be potential side-effects) of CFLs (remember, independent thinking and evauation is good) before we head out to get the freebies.

    P.S. About me ragging on the grandkids. “It was just a joke, officer, just a joke!”. I love my grandkids. They’re my (and yours are the) future. And yes, I will be in line at my local Home Depot on Sunday to get a free CFL (after forking over $14 dollars for two light bulbs I need all the free I can get). A risk analysis of CFLs in the short-term says its potentially ok to go for it, with some cautions. It’s the long-term scenerio I’m having a bit of a problem with.

  2. Ed says:

    A correction and some addition(s) to my previous post.

    I said my 100-watt CFL was rated at 60 watts useage. It’s really only 30 watts. I should have actually looked at the bulb before I wrote the 60.

    I also now see there’s a “Hg” symbol on the side of the bulb (Hg = Mercury). Funny that it’s about 30 times the size of any other text written on the bulb. I really do need some more lumens, I didn’t even see that when I first installed the bulb.

    To see the EPA’s take on CFLs you can take a look at their CFL Fact Sheet. You can read/download it from General Electric’s web site at http://www.gelighting.com/na/home_lighting/ask_us/downloads/MercuryInCFLs.pdf

    In fact GE has a pretty good FAQ on CFLs. http://www.gelighting.com/na/home_lighting/ask_us/faq_compact.htm

    The EPA says CFLs “are not legally considered hazardous waste
    according to federal solid waste rules” and “If recycling is not an option in your area … place the CFL in a sealed plastic bag and dispose the same way you would batteries, oil-based paint and motor oil at your local Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Site. If your local HHW Collection Site cannot accept CFLs … seal the CFL in a plastic bag and place with your regular trash.” and “If a CFL breaks in your home, open nearby windows to disperse any vapor that may escape, carefully sweep up the fragments (do not use your hands) and wipe the area with a disposable paper towel to remove all glass fragments. Do not use a vacuum. Place all fragments in a sealed plastic bag and follow disposal instructions …”

    And for the next several years, do NOT let your dog (or grandkids) lick the spot on the carpet where the bulb broke.

    And you thought I was joking about the respirator, “… open nearby windows …”, indeed.

  3. Abe says:

    Nice one. Free is the best. Thanks!

  4. John says:

    Listened to a CBC Radio show this week lamenting how these bulbs contain Mercury and should be disposed of as hazardous waste.
    Perhaps not as “Green” as we would think?

  5. Brau says:

    Definitely not as green as the makers would like you to believe. Each bulb contains about 4 milligrams of mercury. They are non-recyclable too, unlike standard bulbs which contain no toxic mercury and are easily recycled. Also, the price for a CF bulb is so high that you’ll be lucky if it will last long enough to pay for itself. I have bought five (3 brands) and all died between 3 and 14 months despite their claims of up to five years. I never did recoup my purchase costs. They do of course have a massive profit margin over regular bulbs that you can buy for 25¢; this is the real reason they are being hyped to the consumer.

  6. Mike says:

    ok are you guys conspiracies nuts or what? a CF burning out can be due to alot of reasons: being out in a cold location, irregular voltage to the light, or probably the ones you bought were straight out of China. I have no problems with Phillips bulbs btw

    I am an electrician and I’ve had CF in some rooms on my house for 4 years and they haven’t burned out.

    When you say you havent recouped your losses i find that hard to believe, depending on where you live .. let say you pay 10cents a kilowatt hour your CF @ $3 pays itself off in 3 months.

  7. Toolaremia says:

    Brau, I’d say you have some problem that is killing the CF’s. I’m not a treehugger by any stretch, but I am an electrical engineer. I use CF’s because they do cut my electric bill, and in some applications they allow me to get two or three times the illumiation for the same or less wattage. That last bit is very useful in the garage where I have one socket rated at 100 Watts, but I want 200 Watts worth of illumination.

    As for short life, they all have 3 or 5 year warranties, so you should be getting replacements for free, right? Also, I have several outdoor CF floods that have been in continuous operation for three or more years without failure. I’d normally go through at least one 90W filament bulb a year in the same location. I live way out in the country, with above-ground power lines, so my power should be as dirty as you can get, but I have no premature failures.

    So in summary, I think your math if off unless your electricity is *really* cheap, and you have some power or other use problems that are killing the bulbs prematurely.

  8. Matt says:

    Despite the fact that they contain mercury, they actually contribute less to mercury pollution than traditional incandescents (released from burning fossil fuels at the power plant). source

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