Green Alternatives?: Compact Fluorescent Lighting
Advertised as “green” lighting, compact fluorescent lighting (CFLs) can, in fact, be potential threats to your home and the environment. If a CFL bulb was to break in your home, you would be exposed to an alarming amount of mercury, a toxic metal found in the light. Disposing of CFL bulbs incorrectly is the biggest potential threat to the environment. Most people are unaware of how to dispose of them properly, and when they end up in landfills, they pose a threat to the soil and water, says The Healthy Home Economist. Although CFLs are up to four times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, there are greener alternatives to choose from. Here are a few.
Nothing is more eco-friendly than natural lighting from the sun. Not only does sun provide us with vitamin D, which boosts your mood and increases productivity, but also saves you a bundle on your energy bill. If you’re looking to remodel, consider installing more windows throughout your home; maximizing windows that already exist by making them larger; inserting skylights to allow sun in mid-day; and swapping your front door for one with glass inserts, HouseLogic.com recommends. To optimize the windows you already have, take screens off of your windows and replace heavy curtains with blinds or Roman shades. Trim branches and bushes outside that block light from hitting your windows while adding plants and greenery indoors to lighten and brighten a room. By allowing as much natural light as possible to enter your home, you won’t need to turn on your lights during the day, and you won’t have to worry about leaving lights on in your home after leaving for the day. The only obvious downfall is that natural lighting can’t be utilized once the sun has set and you will still need to have other green lights installed for evening use.
Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are some of the most energy-efficient lighting technologies. LED bulbs last three to five times longer than CFL bulbs, approximately 25,000 to 50,000 hours, and are approximated to use at least 75 percent less energy, says Sciencing.com. According to the U.S Department of Energy, widespread use of LEDs by 2027 could save 348 Twh, equivalent to 44 large electric power plants, and a total savings of more than $300 billion dollars. Unlike CFLs that can’t always be used with dimmer switches, outdoors or with focused or spotlights, LED bulbs are suitable for any fixture, even chandeliers and decorative lighting options. CFLs might be less expensive and quieter, but LED bulbs use less energy, may help reduce carbon dioxide levels and can be easily disposed of, says Fixr.
With a tungsten filament and filled with halogen gas, halogen lights are 10 to 20 percent more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs. Unlike CFLs which experience a delayed warm-up, halogen bulbs provide a bright, crisp light instantly and are fully dimmable, Current says. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, halogen bulbs meet the federal minimum energy efficiency standard but unfortunately, don’t last nearly as long as LEDs which can last eight to 25 times longer than halogen lights.
Although CFLs reduce carbon emissions and use a third of the electricity of an incandescent bulb, the environmental threats associated with improper disposal of CFLs should encourage you to look for green alternatives such as LED, halogen and optimizing natural lighting.