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CFLs vs. incandescent bulbs

Q: Ive been hearing a lot about replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs, to save energy. I want to do it, but it feels wasteful to get rid of perfectly good light bulbs. I think that you should advise people to put in CFLs only after incandescents wear out. If I'm wrong about that, please explain why. A: I know what you mean; it goes against a Vermonters grain to toss something thats useful. But as far as Im concerned, compared to CFLs, incandescents arent actually useful. Incandescent bulbs demand as much as 75 percent more energy and burn out as much as ten times faster than CFLs. So the wasteful option, it turns out, is to keep the functioning incandescents. I look at it this way: I paid about 60 cents for the 60-watt incandescent I used to have in the lamp beside my favorite armchair. Less than two months after replacing it with a CFL, I earned those 60 cents back in energy savings. If you multiply that savings by every light socket in the house, for all the years that CFLs last, the savings are significant. So, throwing out a functioning incandescent actually saves me money. If youre concerned about the environmental impact of adding more trash to the landfill, keep in mind that incandescents damage Vermonts environment as long as theyre lit. Thats because they demand more electricity from power plants that, in turn, pollute the air. Bottom line: Hanging onto old incandescents costs you, and the environment, day after day. Thanks for the great question. Rachael Pendleton Fredericks is a business development specialist at Efficiency Vermont. To find more energy saving tips or to submit a new question about energy use in your home or business, visit www.efficiencyvermont.com or call, toll-free: 888-921-5990 to speak with a customer service representative.

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