Standard incandescent light bulbs may soon become a thing of the past. Under the Clean Energy Act of 2007, the sale of energy-inefficient incandescent bulbs will be phased out over a two-year period, beginning with 100-watt bulbs in January 2012. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) have become the most popular replacement choice. The typical CFL uses 66 percent less energy and lasts up to ten times longer than an incandescent bulb.
Making the switch to CFLs doesn’t require that you throw out all your incandescent bulbs right away. Even a gradual change can result in significant savings. Just replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures can save you more than $65 each year, as CFLs provide the most savings when a lighting source is used for at least two hours a day. You can continue to use incandescent bulbs for fixtures that are only on for a few minutes at a time, such as closet lights, changing to CFLs as your supply of incandescent bulbs runs out.
One important point to know about CFLs is that they contain an average of 4 milligrams of mercury (about the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen). The mercury is sealed within the bulb’s glass tubing, and no mercury is released when the bulb is intact or use. Special caution must be taken when disposing of used bulbs or cleaning up broken bulbs, however. Some states require used CFL bulbs (broken and unbroken) to be taken to local recycling centers for disposal. And if a bulb breaks in your home, you should follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines to clean up the debris:
Before Clean-up: Air Out the Room
• Have people and pets leave the room, and don't let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
• Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
• Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.
Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces
• Carefully scoop up glass pieces and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
• Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
• Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
• Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug
• Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.