CFL Frequently Asked Questions
How much can I expect to save by using CFLs?
CFLs last up to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs and use up to 75 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs. On average, each CFL will save about $30 in energy costs over the expected lifetime of the bulb. By changing out the six most used bulbs in your home to CFLs, you could save over $180 in energy costs.
What are the best locations to install CFLs?
You should use CFLs in high use areas, where the light will be on four hours or more a day.
Are CFLs safe to use?
CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing – an average of 5 milligrams – about the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen. By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury. It would take 100 CFLs to equal that amount. The mercury is held within the bulb and is not released unless the bulb is broken.
All CFLs provided through Duke Energy’s optional program are UL and Energy Star rated and should be used and disposed of by customers in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Unlike traditional incandescent bulbs, CFLs may flicker, dim and emit an odor or smoke at the end of their lives.
Mercury currently is an essential component of CFLs and is what allows the bulb to be an efficient light source. No mercury is released when the bulbs are intact or in use. Many manufacturers have taken significant steps to reduce mercury used in their fluorescent lighting products. In fact, the average amount of mercury in the new smaller styles of CFLs has dropped to around 1.5 milligrams thanks to technology advances and a commitment from members of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. To learn more, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site.
If you would like to read more about CLF’s to determine if they are right for you, consider the following resources:
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 lamp by its base (not the glass), and never forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket. If a CFL breaks in your home, follow the clean-up recommendations below. Used CFLs should be disposed of properly (see below). To read more, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site.
What should I do if a CFL breaks?
Duke Energy recommends following the EPA guidelines for disposing of broken CFLs.
How many hours do CFL bulbs last?
CFLs last between 6,000 and 12,000 hours, or about 10 times longer than a typical incandescent bulb. For this reason, they are perfect choices for hard-to-reach and long-burning locations.
Can I put CFL bulbs inside an enclosed fixture?
Yes. An increasing number of CFLs can now fit in enclosed fixtures. Be sure to look to the product packaging for an indication that the bulb is appropriate for use in enclosed fixtures.
What about using CFLs outside?
Outside light fixtures are usually ideal applications for CFLs, as they are on for long periods of time each day. While CFLs hold up just fine outside, avoid installing them in unshielded or wet applications. Also, avoid installing CFLs on exterior fixtures that have integrated motion sensors or dusk-to-dawn sensors, as their useful lives may be shortened significantly.
CFLs do not turn on as quickly as my regular bulbs.
While CFLs do not start at full intensity like incandescent bulbs, nearly all CFLs turn on (without flicker) instantly and reach full illumination very quickly.