Compact Fluorescent Lights – Are they Worth the Investment?
Compact Fluorescent Lights, or CFLs, are becoming more and more popular as they become cheaper to buy and more reliable. Most people are familiar with them now – they are the ones which look like a spiral. Compared to the old style incandescent bulbs, they only use one quarter of the electricity for the same amount of light.
Using 15 Watts of power instead of the 60 you would use for a regular bulb may not sound like much of a saving, but it really does add up, and as the expression goes, “every little helps”.
During their recent barbecue, Cornwall Electric had a very illuminating display.
They set up 6 old style incandescent bulbs, and six CFLs of equal output, through separate meters. The meter feeding the incandescent bulbs span extremely fast – the movement in the one feeding the CFLs was barely noticeable.
Electrically Heated Homes
The one occasion where CFLs might not reduce your electric bill is when you heat your home with electricity. The reason for this is that CFLs are much more efficient at producing light than incandescent bulbs. Most of the power used by an incandescent bulb produces heat. Instead of heating your home solely with baseboard heaters, you’re heating from both sources, at the same overall cost.
However, if you use air conditioning during the hot weather, then CFLs will make a small difference, and in any case, CFLs last far longer than regular light bulbs, so there is a saving to be found there.
No real health concerns have been reported, however both the Canadian and British Governments are doing studies relating to their ultra-violet light emissions. The British study suggests that the “open” or spiral type of bulb, might emit UV radiation, and cautions about working within 30 centimetres (12 inches) of such a bulb for more than one hour per day. The long, tube like fixtures have no such problem, neither do the so-called “encapsulated” bulbs (CFLs that have an outer glass envelope and look like regular bulbs).
Health Canada states that the bulk of scientific studies to date have not identified any health-related issues, they are testing the bulbs to acquire reliable technical data. If problems are found, actions will be taken to force manufacturers to correct the situation.
The UK Health Protection Agency notes that their warning is a precaution pending further studies, and there is normally no reason to remove these bulbs, but it did advise people suffering from Lupus not to use the bulbs.
CFLs offer most people a simple and economical way of saving on the electricity bill, and, by keeping demand down, they are also helping the environment as fewer greenhouse gasses are produced by the power stations.
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