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Energy Saving Lightbulbs

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I have heard some pretty sinister things about these supposedly revolutionary energy saving lightbulbs. I have heard that they contain a chemical that is poisonous for human beings to breath. So when an energy saving bulb breaks, apparently people have to call special men out, who are dressed in radio-active suits, to clean the mess up properly to ensure that none of the poisonous gas remains.


Have you ever had an energy saving bulb break? If so, what hapened?

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Nah dude, that's completely bogus. I've broken several CFLs, they are completely safe. The problem is that you can't just throw these lightbulbs in the trash, you have to dispose of them properly.


Ok. hank you for your input. My sister has energy saving lightbulbs in her house and hers don't look like they would be dangerpus if they were to drop and smash or something. She has kids and her and her boyfriend are two of the clumsiest people you will ever meet. Maybe the brand that you have are not poisoness, but other - or another brand - is.

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You have nothing to worry about. These energy efficient light bulbs, or CFLs as they are also often called, are completely safe.


The chemical you are referring to is mercury. Its true that mercury is a dangerous chemical, but the amount of mercury in a CFL is only 4 milligrams. This can be compared to the 500 milligrams that are inside every old-style thermometer that you put in either of your orifice. Here's another example to put things into perspective: a can of tuna, sadly, contains as much mercury as a CFL.


That said, its important that you don't buy the cheapest brand and that you recycle your broken CFLs.


Energy Star says this (pdf) about CFLs:


"CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing – an average of 4 milligrams (mg). By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury – an amount equal to the mercury in  125 CFLs. Mercury is an essential part of CFLs; it allows the bulb to be an efficient light source. No mercury is  released when the bulbs are intact (not broken) or in use.
Most makers of light bulbs have reduced mercury in their fluorescent lighting products. Thanks to technology  advances and a commitment from members of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the average  mercury content in CFLs has dropped at least 20 percent or more in the past several years. Some manufacturers  have even made further reductions, dropping mercury content to 1 mg per light bulb."
So in conclusion: CFLs are safe. Switching from traditional light bulbs to CFLs (or LEDs) is an effective way to save money and electricity.
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Hopefully, they will all be replaced by LEDs once the technology needed to dissapate the heat appears.  They are a lot more efficient but the heat sinks really hurt their environmental friendliness and price effectiveness.


I've never heard anyone complain about LEDs being too warm or waste too much energy. LEDs are perfect for locations where more traditional light sources - or even CFLs - can cause a problem. Mind you, that is not to say that LEDs don't produce heat, or that even more energy could be saved. As the author here notes:


"[...] heat is produced within the LED device itself, due to the inefficiency of the semiconductor processes that generate light. The wall-plug efficiency (optical power out divided by electrical power in) of LED packages is typically in the region of 5-40%, meaning that somewhere between 60 and 95% of the input power is lost as heat."

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