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Are fluorescent light bulbs really worth the extra cost?

Have you noticed the new fluorescent light bulbs and wondered if they really are worth the extra cost? Actually they do save money. Here's how:

  • They are more efficient, because they use only 1/4 to 1/3 as much electricity as a standard light bulb.
  • To ensure maximum savings, first replace the bulbs that your family uses the most.
  • They last 10 times as long or about 10,000 hours.
  • Check the packaging of the Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) to make sure it will work in your fixture.
  • There are a variety of CFLs available. Make sure and pick the correct bulb for your home’s needs.

The biggest drawback to these bulbs is the "sticker shock" since they may cost as much as $15.00 per bulb. But, they will last for three to seven years (10,000 hours). The savings in electricity could pay for the higher price tag in about one year, and would save an additional $20 to $40 for the entire time it is used.

Use the following chart to match your current bulbs’ usage with the corresponding CFL:


A-shaped Incandescent Bulb
Typical CFL Lumens
(Measure of Light Output)
40 > 450
60 > 800
75 > 1100
100 > 1600
150 > 2600




Environmental Notes, The U.S. Department of Energy
Energy Star



Barbara Buffaloe, Architectural Studies, College of Human Environmental Studies, University of Missouri-Columbia








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Last update: Monday, May 18, 2009


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