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November 23, 2006

My light bulb moment (and holiday wishes)

As committed as I am to reducing my impact on the environment, I've always had a hard time with the whole compact fluorescent light bulb thing. I know that they use a fraction of the power and last 10 times longer than regular bulbs, but every one that I've ever bought has given off an erie, pale blue light that was somehow never quite bright enough. Even bulbs that claimed to give off "warm" light were impossible to live with, so I shamefully stuck with my old energy-sucking bulbs.

This proves once and for all that I will take a photo of anything.

I read somewhere recently (Natural Home magazine, I think) that certain kinds of fluorescent bulbs give off a light that's similar to regular incandescents (apparently the thing to watch for is the number 2700K, which should be on the package somewhere - it was above the Energy Star logo on mine). Not really believing it, I decided to give it one last shot and bought a pack of 23 watt compact fluorescent bulbs. The ones that I got give off 1650 lumens of light and are supposed to be equivalent to a standard 100 watt bulb. I am thrilled to report that I can't see a difference between the light this bulb gives off and the light given off by the old one. Yay! I will definitely be replacing the bulbs in all of my fixtures with these babies!

Here's some information from the Energy Star website about the benefits of compact fluorescent bulbs:

If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars.

ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs:

Use at least 2/3 less energy than standard incandescent bulbs to provide the same amount of light, and last up to 10 times longer.
Save $30 or more in energy costs over each bulb's lifetime
Generate 70 percent less heat, so they're safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling.

Click here to see them in action.

On another note, I'd like to wish my friends south of the border a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

I can't wait to hear how Phelan made out with her ostrich, I mean, turkey.

9 comments:

Phelan said...

I just got the post up. I was having problems loading pictures ~sigh~ But it turned out wonderfully!

BurdockBoy said...

It's good to know about the 2700k number. Most of the lights in our house are CF, but I had to get used to the strange lighting. At first I fellt as though I was in a laundromat or something. But I will keep my eye open for the ones you recommend.

Stephanie said...

well, that makes me feel hopeful. I've had those in 60watt versions and the amount of light they throw off is inadequate for my needs. Still I think all of my bulbs have now been switched over. My only complain is that my lamps with shades that fit over the bulb, they don't play nicely with these bulbs. I'll have to get a higher wattage next time I need bulbs.

Cheryl said...

Phelan - Everything looks so delicious!

Burdockboy - It's a weird kind of light, isn't it? The shadows are harsher or something.

Stephanie - I have that same problem with a couple of my lamps. I guess I'll have to get some different shades.

Wendy said...

We made the switch over to flourscent bulbs this year. The only problem we've noticed is that we can't use our motion sensor switches, because the bulbs flicker. Other than that, we love them, and see no reason to return to incandescent bulbs.

Whisper Wels said...

Hey guys! Glad to see you made the switch. I own a lighting company www.bulbme.com and I agree that there need to be improvements but the overall value of switching over outweighs the annoyances. Keep it up!

Whisper

Jessica said...

We tested a bunch of bulbs recently to create a searchable guide to compact fluorescent lights and definitely found that the color makes a big difference. All the bulbs listed on our site include details on how many degrees Kelvin they are. Also, you can find covered compact fluorescent bulbs that will work with the lamp shades that fit onto the bulb, so no need to ditch your lamp shade!

Kathy said...

oh this is fabulous, thank you! I have searched in vain for an energy efficient bulb that didn't cast that awful green hue. Hopefully I'll find this one you're showing here in the states.

Anonymous said...

DO NOT USE 2700K CFLs !!!

In your post and readers' comments, the recommended color value for the compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) is discussed as ''2700K'' to avoid the green hue. Modern CFLs have improved the green hue problem from being ~really awful~ to being ~tolerable~. But at 2700K, the yellow/green is still there and most noticeable in places such as near bathroom mirrors. Trust me... no matter what your ethnicity, your skin doesn’t look good under that illumination.

In the current hype, I heard that new CFL colors were ''improved'', but my experience from many years ago with the truly ugly CFLs made me cautious. Instead of buying many replacements at once (foregoing the cheaper price of multi-packs), I bought a CFL from my local hardware store and another from a department store... one was made by GE and the other by Phillips... both rated at 2700K (they are 23Watt, equivalent to 100Watt incandescent). I'm glad I didn't buy more. Both are merely yellow-green instead of sickening green (the Phillips slightly better).

I then read up on the subject and saw that full spectrum white light such as outdoor natural sunlight is >6500 Kelvin. Generally consumers can find the tube fluorescent bulb choices as ''WARM White'' (~2500-3000K) and ''COOL White'' (~4100K). There is also supposed to be''DAYLIGHT'' or ''FULL SPECTRUM'' (5000-5900K) but I've never seen that in any store.

But the problem wasn't tube bulbs, the problem was CFLs, and while I did see packaging labeled as ''warm'', I couldn’t find anything in stores labeled as ''cool'' or ''daylight''. So I turned to the web. I got a 24Watt, 5900K CFL from: http://www.fullspectrumsolutions.com/compact_fluorescent_32_ctg.htm

I'm not endorsing that company... there are others out there such as:
http://www.naturallighting.com/web/shop.php?crn=617

...here’s another:
http://www.1000bulbs.com/23-Watt-Compact-Fluorescents/33711/

At first, the light seemed slightly bluish, but I believe this is a misperception based on familiarity with the warm glow of incandescent lights (present in other light fixtures in the room). My junior high-aged son tested this by putting three lamps together, one with a 100Watt incandescent, one with a 23Watt 2700K CFL, and one with the 24Watt 5900K CFL. Then holding up a white piece of paper we compared what it looked like. It was obvious that ''true'' white appeared with the 5900K bulb. He then screwed in a 150Watt incandescent ''grow-bulb'' floodlight (we bring a few cacti and succulents indoors for the winter) and that one appeared to have an actual bluish hue.

A final detail. There is another index of how the color of light appears known as ''CRI''... the closer to 100 the better. I didn’t see packaging in stores that listed CRI, but the more detailed listings ON THE WEB all showed CRI values... I saw ones ranging from 82-95. The one I bought was rated at 94.

In the future , as my incandescents burn out, I’m going to replace them CFLs >5000K (and CRIs >90)... I'll have to wait longer for those two 2700K CFLs, which I’ve moved to the basement.

QUICK SUMMARY:
(1) Don't buy widely available ''warm'' bulbs thinking the green tint problem has been solved... it's been improved but not solved.
(2) For actual white light, shop online for CFLs with a color rated at >5000K
(3) Don't buy all at once, test it out yourself because you'll have these bulbs for years to come.

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