Monday, February 28, 2011

Squiggly Tailed Light Bulbs

They are called compact flourescent light bulbs. Gradually, the few remaining incandescent bulbs in the house are being replaced with this new generation of light bulb, a bulb that lasts longer and uses less energy.

Shop around, the good brands have varieties that give off wonderful, pleasant light. They are more expensive but you rarely replace them and they reduce your electric bill. They are also a far more efficient use of energy.

One tip: they need to be disposed of properly, as they contain mercury. Check your local sanitation department, and dispose of them the right way, as you do with batteries (we trust!).

Some politicians have lately made quotable complaints about these so-called "squiggly-tail" light bulbs, but at the Burning House this just sounds like good old-fashioned resistance to what is new and improved. And light bulbs are one of these rare examples: truly new, and improved.

[Photo: Gabriel inspects a new-generation light bulb before papa makes the installation.]


Petteri Sulonen said...

We've been using these for a couple of years now almost exclusively, and are very happy with them. A few points, though.

Stick to halogen or incandescent in places where you switch them on and off frequently, such as the toilet. Even the good ones take a minute or so to get to full power, and this is highly annoying in these situations.

Note that because of the lower power, you can get a bit creative, e.g. putting in a big honking super-bright one where normally you couldn't. I've got a 20W one in an egg-shaped frosted-glass "bedside lamp." It's a kind of a cool effect, lights up the whole room... and also I don't often need to switch on the ceiling lamp (5 x 7W) which saves power too.

As you said, don't go with the cheapest. The good ones give much nicer light and last longer, and may even end up cheaper in the long run.

Note that there are ones with cute extra features, such as "switch-dimmable"—you can dim these by flipping the light switch on and off, to four levels or so.

And one legitimate complaint people are having: they're picky about electricity quality. If you live in an area with poor infrastructure where the voltage or frequence fluctuates a lot, or you get frequent spikes, stick to incandescent—CFL's will wear out quite fast.

Algernon said...


My wife actually likes the way they warm up slowly.

Kelly said...

We've been making the change to CFLs for quite some time now and I think we're finally at the point where that's all we have.

You know, short of hoarding the old incandescents, that's really the only choice we'll have before long. Fortunately, I don't mind using them... even with the warming up business.

Pam said...

Over the past couple of years I have been replacing mine with these CFLs. I don't have anymore 'old' bulbs except in the dining room chandeler and they've been in it for the 12 years I've lived here.

I'm not that fond of the light they put out and will move to LEDS where I want better light.

However, I did make the transition, inside and out, this past year.

Adam said...

The only incandescent bulbs I have are over my stove and in a 3-way lamp in the living room. The rest are just fine I've found. The CFLs come in many different colors of light, enough so that the "Russian prison" effect Dennis Miller keeps bitching about is really a moot point if you turn your head around at Lowes or ACE or wherever you get your bulbs.

I also like the fact that they take a bit to light up. I don't like being bombarded with light, maybe has a little something to do with my synesthesia, I'm not sure.

Joe Jin said...

"CFLs have to be disposed of carefully, like batteries." They contain mercury. How many people do you think actually take the trouble to dispose of batteries properly? How many will do the same with CFSs? Kind of worries me, human beings nowadays being the way they are.