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Home Energy Savings Tips: Compact Fluorescent Lamps


Because electrical lighting consumes nearly 15% of a household's electricity use, you may wish to learn about some energy efficient lighting alternatives. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are one you should consider.

Their design blends the energy efficiency of fluorescent lighting with the convenience and interchangeability of incandescent fixtures. CFLs will fit nearly any fixture designed for an incandescent bulb.

CFLs can replace incandescent lights approximately 3–4 times their wattage, which means you can save up to 75% of the lighting energy. Although CFLs cost 10–20 times more than comparable incandescent bulbs, they last 10–15 times as long. In other words, over the long term you save lots of money by paying more up front.

Compact fluorescent lamps work a lot like regular fluorescent lamps. They’re comprised of two parts: a magnetic or electronic ballast, and a gas-filled tube. The gas inside the tube glows with ultraviolet light when electricity from the ballast runs through it. This in turn triggers a white phosphor coating on the inside of the tube, emitting visible light all the way through the surface of the tube.

The type of compact fluorescent lamps which use magnetic ballasts flicker when they start, like regular fluorescents do. They also weigh more than CFL’s with electronic ballasts, which may make them too heavy for some light fixtures. Electronic ballasts are more expensive, but light immediately. They are also more efficient than magnetic ballasts. Most currently available CFLs have electronic ballasts.

Because compact fluorescent lamps are designed to operate within certain temperature ranges, temperatures outside the range cause reduced light output. A CFL's temperature range can found printed on most lamp packages. Although there are models offered for outdoor use, most are for indoor applications. You can install outdoor CFLs in enclosed fixtures to reduce the effects of colder temperatures and wind chill.

This type of lighting is at its most cost effective in areas where lights are left on for long periods of time. In locations where lights are turned on for short periods of time, such as in closets and pantries, an incandescent bulb may be a better choice. Since compact fluorescent lamps do not need to be changed often, they are perfect for hard-to-reach areas like ceiling fixtures.

Try out a CFL for a test run and see how much energy you save.

Carlo Morelli writes for OnlineTips.Org, where you can read tips on adding insulation to your attic, outdoor steel gazebos and other home/garden topics.

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