What are the benefits of compact fluorescent light bulbs?

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) have several advantages over incandescent light bulbs. They last 8-10 times longer, use about 75% less energy, and produce 90% less heat while delivering more light per watt. For example, a 25-watt CFL provides about 1800 lumens, compared to 1750 lumens from a 100-watt incandescent lamp. Use of CFLs reduces the need for electricity and therefore reduces the amounts of pollutants such as nitrogen, mercury, and carbon dioxide emitted by certain power plants. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are an important tool in efforts to reduce pollution and address climate change. 

Is there mercury in CFLs? 

CFL bulbs contain up to 5 milligrams of mercury, the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen, as compared to older home thermostats and mercury fever thermometers, which contain from 500 to 30,000 milligrams. If a CFL bulb breaks, the amount of mercury released can evaporate into the air where it will likely remain at an amount below the safety standards set by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. If a CFL bulb breaks, follow the clean-up and disposal recommendations provided below. 

What safety precautions should be employed when handling CFLs? 

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. CFLs are safe to use and no mercury is released while the bulbs are in use. 

Note: Do not dispose of CFLs in an incinerator, fireplace or other burning device. Never use household cleaners to cleanup mercury spills. Directions for Clean Up provided in Mercury Spills Clean Up and Safety Brochure