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Lighting 101: Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs)

Posted on Monday, September 9 2013

When looking into lowering your electricity costs, a popular option is to switch all of the light bulbs in your home or office to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Switching to CFLs couldn’t be easier, but it’s not uncommon to wonder: are these bulbs really more efficient than regular incandescent bulbs?

The answer is simple: yes!

Here are some facts about CFLs, according to ENERGY STAR:

  • They use 75% less energy than standard bulbs.
  • They can last for more than 3,000! Compare that to the average 1,000 hours for a standard light bulb.
  • They can create less than 75% less heat than regular bulbs. This means, when you keep your lights on for a long period of time, your house won’t heat up!
  • They can help lower your overall electricity usage and utilities.

The Science Behind CFLs

Creating light by running electricity through a resistive filament, incandescent light bulbs heat the filament to a very high temperature. This causes the bulb to glow and produce an extremely visible light, however more than 98 percent of the energy used is emitted as heat.

On the other hand, CFL bulbs produce ultraviolet light, working by passing electricity through a mercury vapor, exciting the gas. As the UV light hits the white coating inside of the CFL bulb, the coating changes into a light that you can see. CFL bulbs don’t use heat to create light.

Lumens Per Watt

A regular incandescent bulb can produce about 15 lumens per watt while CFL bulbs typically produce 50 to 70 lumens per watt. In other words, you can buy a 15-watt CFL bulb that produces the same about of light as a regular 60-watt regular incandescent bulb.

Incandescent       CFL













General Cost and Lifespan

A 6-pack of GE 60-watt incandescent light bulbs costs approximately $4 while a 2-pack of GE 15-watt CFL bulbs (equivalent to a 60-watt regular incandescent bulb) costs approximately $13. While it’s clearly obvious that regular incandescent bulbs are inexpensive, the typical lifespan is around 1,000 hours versus an average lifespan ranging between 1,200 to 20,000 hours for CFL bulbs.


Using 2/3 less energy than a regular incandescent light bulb and lasting up to 10 times as longer, replacing your average 60-watt regular incandescent bulb with a 15-watt CFL can save you at least $30 in energy costs over the lifespan of the bulb. On average, you’ll save approximately $6 per year per bulb.

Questions? Feel free to contact us!

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