Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Partial Retrofits with Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Compact fluorescents have come a long way, but they work better in some spots than others.

Start with outdoor lighting that is on for long periods, and utility areas. I've been impressed with the fluorescent spotlights (though less advantageous for motion sensor lights, since the light is only on for brief periods), and have put the regular CFLs (Compact fluorescent lights) in enclosed outdoor fixtures without problems.

For indoors, the light they give off is much improved, and can be softened further by using them in lamps, where the glass or lampshade will add yellow to their glow.

For rooms with recessed or track lighting, or where dimmer switches make fluorescents problematic, it may work better to simply create a fluorescent alternative in those rooms rather than replacing the more wasteful bulbs. That way, when the room isn't being used but one wants some sort of light on, a lamp or overhead with a florescent can be turned on, with the other lighting reserved for times when you want additional or more ornate light. (Note, Feb/2012: Recently, realizing we rarely used the dimming function, I replaced the dimmer switch for some overhead lighting with a regular switch, so that regular CFLs could be used.)

Some people wait until an incandescent bulb burns out before replacing it with a compact florescent. My thinking is: Don't wait. Start reducing energy consumption now, and if you don't want to throw out a still-functional incandescent, then store it away, as a backup for those few spots where incandescents are more appropriate, for instance where a light is only used for a few minutes at a time.

Compact fluorescents are cheaper than most articles say. Recently, I found both 60 and 75 watt equivalents selling individually for 75 cents each at Walmart (strangely, packages of multiple bulbs in another display in the same store were more expensive per bulb) (On a subsequent visit, the bargain display had disappeared--a "one time deal" according to one of the employees). The big box hardware stores usually have 60 watt equivalents for $1 each these days (As of 1/16, they are more like 3 for $5).

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