If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR®-qualified CFL, in one year it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of more than 800,000 cars.
Replacing energy-wasting incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs is an effective, accessible change that every American should make to reduce energy use at home and prevent greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change.
Facts about CFLs and Mercury
CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing – an average of 4 milligrams – about the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen. By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury – an amount equal to the mercury in 125 CFLs. Mercury is an essential part of CFL technology; it allows the bulb to be an energy-efficient light source. No mercury is released when the bulbs are intact (not broken) or in use.
What is Mercury?
Most light bulb manufacturers have reduced mercury in their fluorescent lighting products. Thanks to technological advances and a commitment from members of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the average mercury content in CFLs has dropped at least 20 percent in the past year. Some manufacturers have even made further reductions, dropping mercury content to 1.4 -2.5 milligrams per light bulb.
Because CFLs help to reduce greenhouse gases, other pollutants associated with electricity production and landfill waste (because the bulbs last ten times longer), they are clearly the environmental winner when compared to traditional incandescent light bulbs.
What precautions should I take when using CFLs in my home?
CFLs are made of glass and can break if dropped or roughly handled. Be careful when removing the bulb from its packaging, installing it, or replacing it. Always screw and unscrew the light bulb by its base (not the glass), and never forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket. If a CFL breaks in your home, follow these clean-up recommendations.
Where should I dispose of my CFLs?
Home Depot - Home Depot customers can bring any expired, unbroken CFLs to the store associate behind the returns desk. The bulbs will then be managed responsibly by an environmental management company who will coordinate CFL packaging, transportation and recycling to maximize safety and ensure environmental compliance.
IKEA - IKEA stores offer a free take back program. Each IKEA store accepts used CFLs and provides free disposal and recycling. In the lighting section, find the well-marked green bin where you can conveniently recycle different types of light bulbs.
Lowe's - Lowe's makes it easier for customers to make a difference by enhancing their in-store recycling services by installing recycling centers in nearly 1,700 stores throughout the United States. The permanent recycling centers just inside the store entrance offer a free, convenient and easy way for customers to recycle rechargeable batteries, cell phones, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and plastic shopping bags.
Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection Household Hazardous Waste Programs and Collection Schedule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that consumers take advantage of local recycling options available for CFLs. The EPA is working with CFL manufacturers and major U.S. retailers to expand recycling and disposal options. Consumers should contact their local municipal solid waste agency directly, or go to www.epa.gov or www.earth911.org to identify local recycling options.
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