Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1

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About CFLs

CFL varieties

What are the benefits to using compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) instead of incandescent light bulbs? It boils down to four important things:

  1. Energy Efficiency
  2. Cost
  3. Safety
  4. Environment

1. Energy Efficiency

CFLs use about one-fourth the energy of traditional incandescent light bulbs. For example, a 23-watt CFL produces the same amount of light that a typical 100-watt incandescent bulb does. And now CFLs are available in a wide range of sizes. They produce a variety of high-quality lighting, so they can be used in many different places, both inside and outside your home.

2. Cost

Because CFLs use about one-fourth the energy of incandescents, you save money on your electric bill. (See below for savings chart.) While the initial purchase price of a CFL is higher than an incandescent, it lasts about 7-10 times longer than an incandescent. And you’re not changing lights constantly.

3. Safety

CFLs produce the same amount of light as their incandescent counterparts, using significantly less energy. That means they also generate less heat and won’t burn you like incandescent lights can.

4. Environment

Power plants that generate electricity also produce pollution. But if you use CFLs, you can help reduce that pollution without sacrificing your lighting needs. They use less electricity to produce the same amount of light as incandescent light bulbs. Reducing the amount of electricity we use also reduces the amount of pollution produced.

New sizes and types available

One of the biggest drawbacks to using CFLs in the past has been their size. Many of them didn’t fit in a traditional lamp. With the newest twist tube design, CFLs are now available in smaller sizes. Plus, you can find them in floodlights, porch lights, bug lights, chandeliers and globes.

Where is the best place to use CFLs?

They are excellent for porch lights, or any light that will stay on for 15 minutes or more. CFLs will provide the biggest energy savings where lights are used for hours at a time, rather than turned on and off quickly.

How much can I save?

CFL savings depend on how many hours per day the incandescent light bulb that you replaced was used. The examples below give you a better idea of what your savings might look like. Of course, your savings will vary if the incandescent light bulb that you replace was used more or less than the hours listed in the below.

  Incandescent CFL CFL
INDOOR READING (1 bulb, 4 hours)
Wattage 100 23  
Hrs On/Day 4 4  
Annual Cost $15 $3 $12
per bulb
PORCH LIGHTING (1 bulb, 12 hours)
Wattage 75 18  
Hrs On/Day 12 12  
Annual Cost $34 $8 $26
per bulb
KITCHEN LIGHTING (5 bulbs, 5 hours):
Wattage 60 14  
Hrs On/Day 5 5  
Annual Cost $56 $13 $43
for 5 bulbs

The annual savings is based on the average PUD residential rate.

Halogen Torchiere Lamps

These floor lamps are especially dangerous in the household. They have been linked to more than 350 fires, 114 injuries, 30 deaths, and millions in property damage.

A 300-watt halogen lamp burns between 700 and 860 degrees Fahrenheit. A 500-watt halogen burns at temperatures up to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures are sufficient to ignite paper, wood, plastic, and fabric.

But they are cheap to buy, so some 50 million halogen torchiere floor lamps are on the market today.

There is an alternative to halogen torchiere lamps. CFL torchieres produce the same amount of light but use only 55- to 75-watt CFLs. That means not only do you save on energy costs, your household is safer using these types of lamps. Look at these comparisons:

  Halogen Torchiere CFL Torchiere
Energy cost per year $35 - $75 $7 - $15
Power consumption 300 - 500 watts 55 - 75 watts
Lamp temperature 700 to 1100 degrees F 100 to 200 degrees F
Light output per watt (lm/W) 10 - 15 60 - 70
Lamp Life 1,000 - 2,000 hours 8,000 - 10,000 hours

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