About "Ask the Energy Expert"
Craig Muccio runs FPL's Conservation Research & Development Program and crunches the numbers to figure out how you can save by managing your energy use.
Your questions on energy-related topics can be submitted anytime to our Ask the Energy Expert blog. Just click here to submit your question, and if chosen, it will be answered here
Asked on: October 11, 2012 by Carlton H., Fort Myers
Which light bulb is better to use in your home, CFL or LED? Should I be concerned about the mercury in CFL bulbs?
That’s a great question. Compact fluorescent light (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs both represent huge efficiency improvements over the years when compared to traditional light bulbs.
All things considered, CFLs may be the better value for use in the home than today’s LED options. While both bulbs emit less heat and last longer, CFLs cost significantly less up front than LEDs while providing better distribution of light. A series of LED bulb studies, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, cited insufficient light output and inconsistent color quality among a range of LED models. CFLs can save you more than $50 in electricity (over the life of the bulb) over a traditional bulb and are available for most lighting fixtures in your home.
These spiral bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury—an average of four milligrams per bulb. This amount reflects a drop in CFL mercury content of about 20 percent in recent years. For perspective, an old mercury thermometer contains about 500 milligrams of mercury.
The mercury sealed inside the CFL tube is not released as long as the bulb remains unbroken. Always screw and unscrew CFL bulbs by holding the base, not the glass, and never forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket. If a CFL bulb does break or burn out, follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommendations for recycling and/or disposing of CFLs safely. To see what we recommend for holiday lighting, visit www.FPL.com/ holidaytips.
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