Updated: June 8, 2015

Are CFL Bulbs worth it?:

After many years of hearing that compact fluorescent light bulbs are more energy efficient and will save me money in the long run I finally made the switch. Well, not totally, but almost 2/3's of my house now has CFL bulbs. I didn't make the change right away since I wanted to see how the bulbs did - both from an energy cutting point of view and from my own perspective on how they light up rooms compared to traditional light bulbs. I had read on several blogs and in online forums that the newer CFL bulbs take a few minutes (in some cases) to actually become fully lit. Also, some people say the lights are "less bright" and can be hard on your eyes. The real issue that most people have is that the bulbs are way more expensive than the regular light bulbs and we all know how consumers are reluctant to spend a lot to save a few pennies every month. I can verify that the savings are more than a few pennis - in my situation the savings were more like $10/month.
cfl bulbs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs - Even if you decide to start changing out just some of the bulbs in your house with the new CFL ones, you will see a difference on your energy bill. I made it a point about 18 months ago to start replacing any light bulb that blew out with the CFL type. I am up to about 40 of the 60 or so bulbs in our house. I also stocked up on the CFL bulbs at Home Depot when they were on sale, so I have a stockpile ready to go when the older ones finally blow out. Part of my reasoning for the change was that some of our light fixtures were constantly blowing out bulbs. Not because of excessive use, but because there was an electrical issue. I could put in a new bulb and within a few weeks it would blow out. I got tired of doing this to I thought I would give the CFL bulbs a chance in their place. I did risk that I would waste even more money as the CFL bulbs are quite a bit more to buy. To my surprise, not one of the CFL bulbs has blown out yet and that is a huge plus. No more having to change out light bulbs every few weeks. Yes, do they do take a while to reach maximum brightness and they can be a bit "irritating" on the eyes as the light just isn't the same as an incandescent bulb. Once I had about 40 CFL bulbs in place I realized that our electric bill had dropped from roughly $90/month down to $80/month. There were no other drastic differences in our monthly usage so I can directly relate the savings to the new light bulbs. Other stories online support this finding with some people saving upwards of $20/month which definitely pays for the up front costs of the CFL bulbs. Where can you buy CFL light bulbs? - They are available everywhere you go - Target, Walmart, Home Depot Lowes, and dozens of other stores. Look for coupons from our electricity provider as they often have deals to help give incentives for their customers to make the switch. You can browse the best selling compact fluorescent light bulbs here.

How Much do compact fluorescent light bulbs cost?:

Before we get into the details of what each CFL bulb will cost, let's quickly go over the potential savings in both energy and money. Per the Energystar.gov website, "an ENERGY STAR Qualified Compact Fluorescent Light bulb (CFL) will use about 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and it can last up to 10 times longer". The potential monetary savings are $40 per light bulb over its lifetime. When are you are looking at how Americans waste energy, this is a massive step in the right direction. We are not talking about waiting 5 years to get your money back, in many situations you are looking at less than a year to recoup your outfront expenses. Lights account for about 20 to 25% of your typical electric bill so they are one of the main sources of energy use. You can buy a GE 13 Watt six pack of CFLs for about $10 - they replace 60 watt bulbs. A pack of 6 CFL (flood lights) will set you back under $15. Earthmate, Sylvania, Eiko, Ecosmart, Feit Electric, and Globe Electric are top brands to choose from along with GE and TCP. You are probably looking at $50 to $100 investment to replace all the bulbs in your house, but keep in mind that the payback will save you $100's over the lifetimes of the CFL bulbs. *** Another type of light bulb is hitting the market and they are the LED bulbs. Just to give you a quick example of bulb life comparisons, an incandescent bulb is expected to get 1000 hours of use, a CFL is up to 5000 hours, and the new LED bulbs can get up to 50,000 hours. Pretty impressive to say the least. The cost does rise when going from incandescent to CFL to LED. Browse the best selling LED light bulbs here.

Disposing of CFL Bulbs:

How do you get rid of your old light bulbs? Probably just throw them away in the garbage. Well, with CFL's that is not the best way to go and in fact it's illegal in some cities that I know of. You are supposed to take them down to your local recycling center and dispose of them there. They have a special area set aside for the CFL bulbs when they run their course. The reason why you can't just unload them in the garbage cans is because of the higher levels of mercury in them. According to the EPA, "CFLs contain an average of 5 milligrams of mercury, which increases the bulb's efficiency". Go to the Energy Star or Earth 911 websites for disposal instructions in your area.