5 On Your Side

Compact fluorescent light bulbs save you money

Posted September 26, 2007 6:27 p.m. EDT
Updated April 30, 2008 6:42 p.m. EDT

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, also called CFLs, are growing in popularity.

Progress Energy recently started a program at Home Depot stores where you can get a $1 discount on CFLs.

CFLs are spiral shaped, use less energy, and can have a life span of up to 15,000 hours.

"First of all, they don't burn out as readily as a regular bulb, and they're more energy efficient,” homeowner David Kyff said.

Kyff switched all of the incandescent bulbs in his home with CFLs.

Consumer Reports worked with a lab to test hundreds of CFLs to find out how well they work and what kind of savings they provide.

“CFLs have improved dramatically in the last five to 10 years. First of all, they've come down in price. The color that they give is much better. They turn on faster, and they don't hum or flicker or buzz anymore,” Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman with Consumer Reports said.

All CFLs performed well in Consumer Reports tests. Results showed the intensity and color of the CFLs are close to what you would get from a standard incandescent bulb.

You can buy a compact fluorescent light bulb for less than $3. Consumer Reports suggest shopping by price, and buying CFLs that are ENERGY STAR qualified.

CFLs should also be used in light fixtures that stay on for at least 15 minutes at a time. Otherwise, you will shorten the life of the bulb and reduce the energy-saving benefits.

As for savings, Consumer Reports claims CFLs can cut your electric bill by about $5 a year for every bulb used.

There is a warning about CFLs, they contain a small amount of mercury, so you are supposed to dispose of them at a recycling center.