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Do The New "Energy-Saving" Light Bulbs Really Save You Money?

Updated on February 23, 2018
DzyMsLizzy profile image

Liz's advice, on finance, credit, frugal living practices, & anything monetary, is from the 'school of hard knocks,' research, & experience.

What's All the Fuss Over Light Bulbs?

Frankly, I've been changing light bulbs since I was about 10 years old. The government, at the behest of special-interest groups, always works to make things more complicated than they need to be.

Can You Believe What You Read?


Watts vs. "Lumens"

There are many different means of measuring the output of any given type of light. Most of us are familiar with watts. We grew up with watts. It was easy to go to the closet and select a 60-watt bulb to replace one that had burned out.

Wattage is a direct measure of power output. It stands to reason, therefore, that the higher wattage rating a lightbulb has, the brighter the light will be. The thickness of the internal filament is also a factor, with higher wattage bulbs needing a thicker wire filament to withstand the heat generated.

Lumens are a measurement of the brightness of the light given off. So a high-wattage bulb produces more lumens than a low-wattage bulb.

If you get into theater or television production, you'll find yet another term used to define lighting power: kelvins. I won't go into that further, but suffice it to say that there is plenty of lighting-related terminology available to confuse the issue.

Marketing Language Trickery

In an attempt to confuse consumers into thinking that the new fluorescent, "energy-saving" bulbs are something new and different, the manufacturers have eliminated the term "watts" and substituted "lumens" in their advertising and on the packaging.

Lumens are not something new--only something confusing to consumers. The old incandescent bulbs also produced lumens. The new fluorescent bulbs consume wattage to provide light. They are not different by those terms, as the corporations would have you believe.

Then they turn right around and compare the relative wattages of both bulbs, claiming that a 14 watt CFL (Compact Fluorescent) is equivalent to a "regular" 60 watt bulb. However, they are claiming that it gives as much light--which it will not, because it is lower wattage. They are deliberately mixing up lumens and watts to further muddy the issue. It will draw less wattage; in so doing, it will also give off less light.

I don't know where these smooth operators went to school, but it sounds like fuzzy math to me. No matter how you slice it, 14 ≠ 60, and 18 ≠ 75.

Since when are advertisers and marketing agents known to be forthright and truthful? If you believe them, I may have a spare bridge or two for sale.

Scientific Measurements vs. Human Eyes

There are many different scientific tools available to measure all kinds of light from sunlight, light bulbs, camera flash mechanisms, right on down to wavelengths invisible to our eyes.

That's all well and good, but the most sophisticated instruments still cannot replicate the human eye. What light we see and how we see it is very different than how it is seen by these instruements.

Furthermore, everyone's eyes are different from anyone else's, and sometimes one person's eyes are different from each other. Our eyes change as we grow and age, and our ability to see changes. If this were not the case, no one would ever need eyeglasses. That's the crux of the matter: eyes change; instruments remain constant. Instruments cannot perceive light in the same way our eyes do, nor adapt to how our eyes change.

Faulty Logic in the Comparisons

Trying to compare wattage to lumens is the classic "apples and oranges" flaw. They try to compare these new fluorescents to incandescent bulbs, but it is pure nonsense. Sure, they put out light, but to try to say that a much lower-wattage bulb is equivalent in light output to an old 60 or 75 watt incandescent is nothing but pure propaganda.

Just ask anyone over age 50 or 60 if the new lights REALLY put out as much or as good quality of light to see by. They don't!

When I initially wrote this article, I was 64, and I do notice a huge difference--I've only aged further since then!. The end result? I now need even MORE lights to see the same things as with the old lights. Where are the supposed "savings" then?

Longevity in General Terms

Generally speaking, a low-wattage bulb will last longer than one of higher wattage. Higher wattages produce more heat, and heat is the enemy of longevity. This is true of the entire universe: it is a law of physics, and can be extrapolated to anything from these light bulbs all the way out to the far reaches of the galaxy. A bright, hot star will burn itself out years (perhaps centuries) earlier than a cool, dim star.

Elementary School Physics

By that example, you would expect an incandescent light to burn out faster than the flourescents, and that is the claim. But not so fast...we are also cautioned, in the interest of "saving energy" to turn the lights off every time we leave a room.

Hmm... didn't we learn way back in grade school that heat causes expansion, and cold causes contraction? Yes, I'm sure I remember that lesson.

Well, you see, the filament in an incandescent light, when being turned on and off as recommended, repeatedly goes through that same process: expansion; contraction; expansion; contraction. It is very much like breaking something a bit tough (a piece of plastic or thin metal, e.g.) by bending and folding it back and forth. Eventually, you will break it. That is what is happening with the lamp filament, and when it finally snaps, the light burns out.

With fluorescents, it is the ballasts that will burn out, or they can lose their seal, and the gases can escape. The end result is the same.

Livermore, CA Centennial Light Bulb

Speaking of longevity and low wattage--there is a world-famous light bulb still burning in a fire station in California. It was installed in 1901, and has been left on 24 hours a day ever since. It's about a 4-watt bulb, and yes, it's still working.

Instead, you can read about it in detail here, at Snopes is well-regarded for providing validation or debunking of assorted claims found on the Internet.

Heat and Fire Risk

Much fuss is made over checking the light fixture for the maximum recommended wattage bulb to use to avoid overheating and fires. Why was that never a problem in the past? It comes down to materials used to make the fixtures, and on a more techincal level, the gauge of the wiring used.

Light fixtures used to be made of metal and porcelain. These materials can stand a lot of heat and not melt or catch fire. The temperatures required to melt steel, or even tin or aluminum, are far higher than what is produced by even a 150-watt incandescent lightbulb. The same is true of porcelain; it's a high-fire ceramic product, and even in the kiln at temperatures exceeding 2000° Fahrenheit, it does not melt.

The fire hazard back then was with flammable materials such as draperies or piles of newspapers too close to the heat source. Now, many of our consumer goods, including light fixtures, are made of cheap plastics, which will melt and could catch fire under the right conditions.

More Faulty Claims

Fluorescent bulbs are touted as being cooler, and not generating heat. On the surface (no pun intended), this may seem to be true, as a flourescent lamp, even one that has been on for several hours, may feel barely warm to the touch, whereas an incandescent bulb gets too hot to touch quite rapidly.

While the physical temperature of the bulbs may be radically different, that's not to say that flourescents do not generate heat. They do. It is just in a different place. These kinds of lamps, regardless of size, use what is called a ballast. What the ballast does, in its simplest terms, is act as a converter, or inverter, transforming the fluctuating AC current into stable DC current. In the process, heat is generated. These ballasts can get quite warm, even hot in the process. The trouble is, they are not in areas where there is much air circulation to dissipate that heat.

Ballasts are at the bases of the bulbs (hence the bulky, clunky appearance of the supposed direct-replacements for ordinary screw-in incandescents). Right up against the electrical socket, they are much more shielded from air flow than the rest of the bulb. The same is true of ceiling-mounted flourescent fixtures: the ballast is up inside the fixture, often right against the housing that is in contact with the ceiling. Or, in the case of flush-mount down lights, often seen in kitchens, the ballast is above the ceiling, inside the fixture housing: there is nowhere for that heat to dissipate.

(You want some real heat output? Try a halogen lamp!)

False Economy

These fluorescent bulbs are advertised as taking less energy to operate and as lasting over twice as long as a 'regular' (incandescent) bulb. Neither is true.

They supposedly put out as much light for lower wattage, hence the supposed 'energy savings.' Perhaps young eyes cannot tell the difference in illumination, but older eyes can. The older you get, the more and brighter light you need to see well.

Just like "low-flow" faucets, (because of the reduced water pressure), the water must run longer to get the job done, ergo, no actual savings are realized. The same is true of the so-called "energy efficient" CFLs. There is a lower level of light output, so more or higher wattage bulbs must be used; say "bye-bye" to any true savings.

Also, they do not last over twice as long, as claimed in the ads and on packaging. In fact, we have had to replace these bulbs almost twice as often, meaning they actually last only half as long as standard ones! These claims, then, are false advertising and propaganda, pure and simple.

CFLs are expensive, as well: up to $5.00 per bulb, as opposed to about that amount for a 2 or 4 pack of standard incandescent bulbs. That makes for a further dip into the consumer's wallet, whether or not it appears on the actual utility bill.

Waiting To See!

Ah, yes, those ballasts required by the fluorescents take time to "warm up." Meanwhile, the light is even dimmer than the normal full operating output. Here's where your "lumens" come into play. As the ballast warms up, the output is less wattage, resulting in fewer lumens. The end result? Lighting that is even less useful, and visibly much dimmer.

Longer Life? Energy Savings?

I don't buy that claim at all. We've had numerous of these "CFL" bulbs burn out in normal usage far more frequently than the old incandescents.

All of our porch lights and outdoor lights on the garage have been replaced with fluorescents. They are left on all night long. Since we are retired, we don't "do" mornings anymore, so the lights are on for about a 12-hour time span. Sometimes the front porch light is on for 24 hours, if we forget to turn it off. The old incandescents lasted at least a year, often much longer. The new type, by contrast, we find burning out every 6 to 8 months.

Guaranteed? Warranted?

Right. As you can see in the photos above, these CFL's are theoretically guaranteed to last between 7 and 11 years. They do not. But just try and collect on a warranty claim. Read all the if's and's and but's in the conditions that must have existed in order for the bulb not to fail. It is ludicrous. You'll notice there are no warranties on standard bulbs. They know better. Light bulbs burn out. It is as much a fact of life as kids catching colds.

Not What You Think

In researching this article, I came across a very interesting video which exposes the truth behind much of this 'green' movement. Unfortunately, the video seems to have been taken down! All that remains is an image, and the title, "The Truth About Planned Obsolescence."

It's actually more about money than the environment. What a surprise! (Said with a heavy dose of sarcasm.)

Lower Cost?

Hardly! These special "improved" bulbs cost at least 3 or 4 times as much as the old style. As a rule of thumb, the more something is touted as 'new, improved, better,' etc., the less likely it is to be true. In all probability, it is worse: the only improvement will be to the manufacturer's bank account.

At these prices, such newfangled pseudo-improvements are not affordable for those on fixed incomes.

In order to actually realize any "cost per unit" savings these new lights supposedly deliver, you'd have to be assured that, a) the units would actually live up to their guaranteed lifespan, and, b) that you, yourself would outlive that time period. For many senior citizens, the second item might be a problem.

In any case, since the lights actually do (usually) fail prior to the expiration of any warranty period, and since the claim conditions are so stringent, you end up purchasing replacements. We're back to "What savings?!"

Let's do the math: at $16.43 for a 3-pack, that comes to $5.48 (rounded) for each bulb! Now, let's look at standard bulbs: at $2.26 for a 4-pack, that comes to $0.57 (rounded) for each bulb.

Mind you, I did the price comparisons at a discount chain grocery store--they may well be higher at hardware or home improvement stores.

Cost Comparison

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Standard 60 Watt bulbs, clearly marked at $2.26 per 4-packCFL's marked at $11.24 per 3-pack, for a supposed 60 watt equivalency.  Wait!  What?  The lower wattage costs MORE?Standard 40 Watt bulbs, clearly marked at--well look at that:  $2.26 per 4-pack--the same as the lower wattage.CFL's marked at $16.43 per 3-pack! For a supposed 75-watt equivalency.
Standard 60 Watt bulbs, clearly marked at $2.26 per 4-pack
Standard 60 Watt bulbs, clearly marked at $2.26 per 4-pack
CFL's marked at $11.24 per 3-pack, for a supposed 60 watt equivalency.  Wait!  What?  The lower wattage costs MORE?
CFL's marked at $11.24 per 3-pack, for a supposed 60 watt equivalency. Wait! What? The lower wattage costs MORE?
Standard 40 Watt bulbs, clearly marked at--well look at that:  $2.26 per 4-pack--the same as the lower wattage.
Standard 40 Watt bulbs, clearly marked at--well look at that: $2.26 per 4-pack--the same as the lower wattage.
CFL's marked at $16.43 per 3-pack! For a supposed 75-watt equivalency.
CFL's marked at $16.43 per 3-pack! For a supposed 75-watt equivalency.
Don't buy these unless it's an emergency.  Remember--you get what you pay for!
Don't buy these unless it's an emergency. Remember--you get what you pay for!

Oh, and look at this--I found some CFL bulbs at this same grocery store for just 25 cents each! Uh-huh. We foolishly tried those, too. The old adage applies: "You get what you pay for."

Overall Safety Comparisons

How to Dispose of a Burned-Out Incandescent Bulb

When an old light bulb burns out, you put it in the garbage. Maybe you even wrap it so broken glass won't cut through the trash bag and make everything spill all over. That's it. You're done.

How to Dispose of a Burned-Out Fluorescent Bulb

With fluorescent bulbs, however, you are not supposed to put them into the garbage pickup. Well, why on earth not? Because they are toxic, that's why. They require special disposal.

The ballast is electronic--considered "e-waste," much like a dead computer or TV. But that's not the worst part. Nope. The gases inside the tube that are responsible for creating the light by glowing when excited by the electrical current, are toxic in and of themselves.

It gets worse. The insides of these tubes are coated with phosphorus powder--a dangerus chemical to inhale, or get into your system. If a fluorescent tube breaks, this agent is on each and every one of the fragments, so you'd better not gather it up bare-handed. If you should cut yourself on one of those shards, you could become quite ill.

Bottom line? Fluorescent lamps, bulbs, tubes--all types--are considered a hazardous waste item, and most cities don't want you to put them into the trash that ends up in the landfills, where groundwater could become contaminated from the leaching phosphorus.

Want more? When an ordinary light bulb breaks, it simply shatters. But because of the gasses compressed inside the tubes of fluorescents, when they are dropped, they virtually explode, sending shards of phosphorus-coated glass far and wide--someone across the room could get hit in the eye with one of these projectiles.

In the "Bad-Old Days..."

Back when I was a kid, before we knew better; before there was any such thing as "Haz-Mat" disposal, my father used to dispose of burned-out 8-foot fluorescent tubes from his workshop by hurling them against the garage door like a javelin. "Poof!" they would explode in a puff of "smoke" (that was phosphorus being pushed into the air!). The tube fragments were then swept up and fit easily into the trash can.

So, yes, they do still explode even when burned out.

Aesthetics and Praticality

Finally, we come to what may be unimportant to some; vitally important to others: and that's the way the things look.

I prefer to have a clean, streamlined look. Lighting should be bright enough, but unobtrusive. The light fixture should not call attention to itself unless it is supposed to, as with some ornate over-the-top crystal chandelier. Those, however, are usually found in rich people's mansions, however, and not in your normal "every-man's" house.

Extra width; extra height
Extra width; extra height

Even the most "streamlined" of the fluorescents still have that fat base with its ballast. Some are fatter than others. The coiled type are the worst, and they because the ballast adds length to the bulb, they simply do not fit into the old fixtures, so you have this ugly coil sticking out of the lampshade. It looks tacky in the extreme.

Sometimes, that fat base keeps the bulb from even fitting into the fixture, as was the case with the overhead recessed lighting in our home office. The base was so fat that it would not fit through the opening in the top of the fixture to even allow the threads to reach the socket above! Fortunately, we have the know-how and every tool needed to modify that housing, so the bulbs would fit.: not everyone is able to do so. They would be unable to use the "CFL's" at all.

Impractical and not Cost-Effective

Now, once these new-fashioned bulbs become all that is available, my question is this: who is coming to my house, and that of all the other senior citizens on fixed incomes, to replace all my light fixtures free of charge, to accommodate the new lights?

I sure can't afford to do that, and neither can many others. You must figure in the cost of doing all that remodeling into the supposed "savings" from these new-fangled lights.

I guess we'll have to revert to candles and kerosene lanterns to read by. Oh, but wait--you'd be adding to pollution by doing that, or perhaps you'd need to contact the city for a "burn" permit, and take note of whether it's a "burn" or "no burn" day.

Otherwise, i guess we're left with going to bed when it gets dark. (In winter, that's a bit early for bedtime...)

Who Pays For All This?

It's the old story: if you want to get at the truth of something, follow the money. Someone, somewhere has a monetary interest in pushing this. It is most likely the manufacturers dropping "donations" into the pockets of politicians.

My guess is that it is a story similar to the origin of the "no meat on Fridays" rule adopted centuries ago by the Roman Church. In truth, it was the fishmongers complaining of too little business, lobbying the archbishops....and not the reason given to all the faithful.

The cover story as fed to the public in this case has to do with environmental protection and the global warming issue. The argument does not hold up: if you want to help the environment, why mandate a product that adds more toxins and must be given special handling to prevent release of those toxins?

In point of fact, methane is the biggest contributor to global warming and smog than all the cars and trucks on the planet, and certainly out-paces emissions from power plants. Guess where all that methane comes from? Cattle feed lots. I first read about this well over 15 years ago. It's not "new news," but it is hushed up, thanks to the cattle lobby.

And who really pays the worst price? Third-world countries, where tons and tons of "e-waste" is shipped to be dumped into once-verdant areas that have become ugly, stinking, dangerous dumps.

There is so much unethical in this planned obsolescence that it boggles the mind. Make yourself an hour of time to watch the full story on The Lightbulb Conspiracy--Planned Obsolescence; it will shock and anger you. At least, I hope it will, and inspire action against this wasteful nonsense. It began with the simple light bulb, but it has become pervasive throughout our modern society.

© 2012 Liz Elias


Submit a Comment
  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Agree, "anonymous." I did make a passing reference to the fact that they have toxins within, and are required to be disposed to as hazardous waste. Thank you for stopping by.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    What no one is talking about is the very high lveels of mercury in CFL's. There is no current easy way to dispose of these not so eco friendly bulbs. Also there are no regulations which state manufacturers must place warning labels on packaging to alert the consumers of the high lveels of mercury. This is the main reason I went back to standard long lasting incandescent bulbs. Until LED becomes more available this is the only choice for me and my family.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello again, cat--

    Brava for you! I agree with you fully. Sadly, though, I do not do a whole lot of cooking from scratch--only certain items--main courses, etc., but I rely on mixes for cakes, pancakes, etc. I never learned how to bake from scratch, as my mother never did.

    I applaud your "dinosaurian" ways! ;-)

  • cat on a soapbox profile image

    Catherine Tally 

    8 years ago from Los Angeles

    It seems that "green" means money instead of the environment! I detest the buzzword too. I know we both grew up w/ common-sense approaches to living where we wasted little and made household basics work in many ways. The marketing of convenience items came along and made a mess of it all. I still make things from scratch, preferring whole foods, and clean my house w/ biodegrable cleaners and degreasers that cost considerably less than major brands. Call me me a dinosaur, but I'm a savvy one! :)

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, cat on a soapbox,

    LOL...intended or not--great punny comment. I agree it is all marketing BS, profit-driven and not "green" at all...Oh, how I have come to detest that new buzzword!

    Thank you for your well-thought-out comment. Cheers!

  • cat on a soapbox profile image

    Catherine Tally 

    8 years ago from Los Angeles

    This hub is enlightening- no pun intended. The more frequent on/off of lights and the expansion/contraction of the tungsten filament makes so much sense in explaining the short-life of my bulbs. My father-in-law installed a night-light bulb to illuminate his address numbers. He left it on 24/7. It was still working 40 yrs. later until a house painter accidentally hit it. I hate the new bulbs, the poorly designed bulk, and the cold bluish tint. My stockpile of incandescents is dwindling, and I'm treasuring the warmer tones. I've felt that we are all being snowed by the green movement and regard much of it as a marketing ploy. My pet peeve is the waste of planned obsolescence and the ridiculous expense of poorly made goods. Thanks for speaking up!!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello there stuff4kids,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I think there are many people in your situation who went out and bought the "energy saving" bulbs, only to be disappointed.

    I wouldn't call you "odd," because everyone is different, but the slow-on aspect of these bulbs drives me nuts...I want and need bright light to see by, and when I flip the switch, I want it NOW, not in 5 minutes after the ballast warms up!

    Yes...anything you read, take with a grain of salt...a double dose if it's from industry, and triple that if it's the government speaking.

    I'm please you found the article useful and informative--thanks so much for your well-thought-out comment.

  • stuff4kids profile image

    Amanda Littlejohn 

    8 years ago

    Well there's a lot of food for thought in that. I went ahead with naïve enthusiasm and replaced all my bulbs with 'low energy bulbs.'

    I'll have to think this all through afresh I think. Although, they have been going a while now and still work fine. I also quite like the way the light comes up slowly but I'm a bit of an oddball, I guess.

    On the 'green credentials' side I'm not (being realistic, I like to think, rather than cynical) too surprised by this information. There are so many scams around and if it is from the government, even less surprise there!

    Thanks for a very informative and important hub. Bless you :)

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, mary615,

    You know, you're right about those ceiling fan bulbs! I just had to replace some myself, and you can, at this point, still buy the regular ones, but WOW the sticker shock! The price was outrageous. I paid on the order of $7 for a pair!!!!! And yes, those squiggly bulbs are ugly.

    Thanks very much for the comment, compliment and the votes. I'm delighted you enjoyed the article.

  • mary615 profile image

    Mary Hyatt 

    8 years ago from Florida

    When I first read about the old fashioned light bulbs possibly being banned, my first reaction was to run out and stockpile light bulbs! I do not like these new squiggly looking bulbs. I agree that they do not last very long. One other problem: I have some newer ceiling fans and the lights have a smaller base than the standard. I'm not even sure you can buy these new bulbs with that small base. I have to buy a special "fan light" for my fans.

    Excellent Hub, well written and very informative.

    I voted this UP, etc.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, Wayne,

    I agree--it's the old "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" issue. But these greedy corporate yay-hoos don't care--they want to 'fix' everything to benefit their bank accounts--that's all they care about!

    At the rate things are going, I might rather live with the bats! LOL Thanks for your comment; I'm pleased you enjoyed the article/rant.

  • Wayne Brown profile image

    Wayne Brown 

    8 years ago from Texas

    You are right on with your assessment here, DML. The CFL's are more expensive up front, not as bright as expected, and are prone to failure. I get a bit up set when a $9 light bulb fails in a short time. Of course then there is the disposal issue associated with the mercury content...Thomas Edison had a much better idea, I think and we need to leave well-enough alone. If the government and environmentalist have their way, we'll all be living in caves with the bats. Good write! ~WB

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, sgbrown,

    Thanks very much for your comment. I agree, 'tis a crock of steaming nitrogenous waste material to place such a ban!

    I'm glad to discover it's not just MY eyes being faulty, but gosh, a whole bunch of folks. Imagine that! Now, if only the government doofuses can be convinced to rescind their actions. ... .umm..yeah--good luck with that, right?

    Thanks for the votes!

  • sgbrown profile image

    Sheila Brown 

    8 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

    I have to say I agree! The good old fashion light bulbs work the best. We have replaced many of our bulbs with the new CFLs and they are just not enough light. I end up turning on more lights so I can see. This ban is a crock! I may be like Dave and start stockpiling the old bulbs! Voting this up and useful! :)

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, mizjo,

    Bingo--they left those tubes lit to ease wear and tear on the ballasts!

    We, too, have converted a good many of our fixtures to the fluorescents, and we hate them. In fact, less than a month ago, we replaced a burned-out fluorescent in the outdoor fixture above the shop door--guess what? It's already burned out again! This time, I'm going to re-install a good-old, reliable incandescent!

    You are right, too, about the distance factor--no one wants to have to hold a book a foot from the lamp! Even the so-called "high wattage" ES bulbs, as you discovered, are inadequate.

    Thanks very much for your contribution!

  • mizjo profile image


    8 years ago from New York City, NY

    Now I know why people with the long fluorescent tubes left them on all night!

    I have been a good girl and replaced a lot of my regular bulbs with the energy-savers, and find that the lower wattage energy savers do not give the same light as the higher wattage regulars, so I still need the high wattage energy savers to get enough light. But if you get your book really close to a reading lamp with the ES bulb, you can read it. But I guess you don't want to hold your book a foot from the lamp!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, moonlake,

    I know what you mean. It is all false advertising, in my opinion...

    Thanks for the votes!

  • moonlake profile image


    8 years ago from America

    We have regular light bulbs in our house. My eyesight is bad and I have lots of trouble seeing with the new bulbs. If it's in a place where I don't have to worry about lots of light I do use them. Interesting hub voted up.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, 2patricias,

    Thank you so much for the compliment and the support. I'm glad you agree, and it's not just MY eyesight....(I'm pushing 65--just 3 months away now).

    IMO, the new bulbs never "brighten up" sufficiently. This entire concept is not well-thought-through at all.

  • 2patricias profile image


    8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

    Excellent hub! Not only is it well written, but I happen to agree with it.

    The new "energy efficient" bulbs take a while to brighten up - so now I turn on a light at least 5 minutes before I want to use it. I also usually turn on 2 lights (like a ceiling light and a reading lamp) when in the past I would have used just one.

    I am 61, and the light from one of the new bulbs simply isn't enough for sewing or reading small-ish print.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    @ Peggy W; I agree--made offshore is another major point against them. Freedom of choice, indeed! I do think there are more important things for Congress to be doing, for certain. Thanks so much for the votes and share!

    @ Rochelle Frank; I would hope this ban has been put on permanent hold. I do hope that the American people will be vocal enough to object strenuously about this bad idea. If they offshore everything, as the seem to have already done with so many products, light bulbs will be the least of our worries. We need to bring ALL the manufacturing back--it’s what made this country great in the first place. Now, greedy corporations care only for their short-term bottom line.

    I’m glad you liked the article, and I thank you for your input.

    @ Xenonlit; Asthma being triggered by fluorescent bulbs? Well, not much surprises me anymore. If these products are coming from China, as so many things now do, I would guess that they are rapidly and not-so-carefully made. We’ve already seen poisoned pet foods and lead in toys. Flourescent bulbs that might be leaking gas, or have a high EMF output could certainly trigger health issues. I wouldn’t use them anymore either, in your position!

    @ Deborah-Diane; Thanks so very much for your supportive comment. I don’t like fluorescents myself; never have. I don’t like the quality of the light.

    @ 2besure; I have to agree with you--they are not as bright. Statements to that effect are simply marketing hype, and not true. As we all know, the truth-in-advertising laws are pretty loosely enforced, if at all. And yes, seeing where you are going is a good thing! Thanks for the votes!

  • 2besure profile image

    Pamela Lipscomb 

    8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    I use them because Duke Power in NC gave me about 15 of the to try! They don't seem to be as bright as regular bulbs. I like to see where I am going. Great information MsLizzy! Voted up, interesting!

  • Deborah-Diane profile image


    8 years ago from Orange County, California

    I agree that these bulbs have a lot of problems. I also do not believe that flourescent lights are all that good for us. Thanks for your hub.

  • Xenonlit profile image


    8 years ago

    I am not kidding here. I have asthma, and I kept a lamp on all night with one of those new light bulbs. By 2 AM, I would have horrific attacks. I read somewhere that the bulbs were aggravating asthma and I did an experiment. I changed to a regular light bulb and haven't had one of the bad asthma attacks since then. I will admit that it might be dust, since the new bulbs have a much larger area for collecting dust, but I know that I won't be using them.

  • Rochelle Frank profile image

    Rochelle Frank 

    8 years ago from California Gold Country

    I think the rush to ban incandescents has been put on hold, but it may be enforced in some localities or may come back again.

    One concern I have, if we are forced to switch from incandescent and have to buy all our bulbs from China... what happens when they decide to quit selling them to us?

    Great, information-packed hub.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    8 years ago from Houston, Texas

    The fact that they are more expensive, are toxic to the environment, cost more and are manufactured outside of our country...why we are not all enamored with using them should be obvious. And to think that our Congress voted this into law mandating their use makes it even worse! Don't they have better things to do? What happened to freedom of choice? Up, useful and interesting votes + will share.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, lindacee,

    I'm so glad to meet another person who knows how to think for herself. Hype is indeed the right word for what these so-and-so's are trying to use as a cover-up for their nefarious schemes.

    I know exactly what you mean, as well, about where the manufacturing happens. Don't get ME started, either! Rant on, my friend; such public rants are the only way things ever change!

  • lindacee profile image

    Linda Chechar 

    8 years ago from Arizona

    I loved this Hub! I've never bought into the hype over CFL. Give me an old-fashioned incandescent light bulb anytime. Just more lies to get us to spend more of our hard-earned money on something we really didn't need in the first place -- all in the name of energy conservation and saving the planet. And don't get me started on where those CFLs are manufactured. Great way to create jobs at home. Give me a break! Thanks for letting me rant! :)

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, Hyphenbird,

    Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experience. Free is good, but it's also not always what it's cracked up to be, eh? The power company gave them to you? HA! Sorry, but I have to make the comparison to a drug pusher giving 'free' samples to a potential victim...errrrr....'customer.'

    I'm pleased you enjoyed the article, and thanks for your comment.

  • Hyphenbird profile image

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    I also like the old regular Joe bulbs. I am using the new ones right now because the power company gave me 15 for free. I was a bit suspicious. Now I know I was right to have that inkling of concern. Thank you for "enlightening" us!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    9 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, Green Lotus,

    Thanks very much for adding to the discussion from your insiders' viewpoint.

    Again, I point out, that if they did not make the new items out of cheap plastics that can melt, and went back to metal and porcelain, the fire hazard from using the 'wrong type bulb' would cease to be an issue.

    As for LED's...I'm not convinced of those, either. Yes, as you point out, they are very expensive, and we did not find they lasted at all. Two years ago, we bought a (rather pricey for our budget) pre-lit outdoor LED tree for our holiday display.

    We put our decorations up starting the day after Thanksgiving, and take them down the weekend after the New Year. This "new, improved, fancy LED tree" did not even last that short season. (We have the display on a timer, on for about 6 - 8 hours a night...) So the LED's did not win any brownie points in our book, either.

    I appreciate your contibution, but I remain unconvinced. I still prefer the original incandescents, and hold with the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

    :-) Cheers

  • Green Lotus profile image


    9 years ago from Atlanta, GA

    Interesting article Lizzy and you make some valid points. I'm involved in the design industry and know that every new fixture on the market is, as you point out made for the new energy efficient bulbs. If you use an old incandescent you can melt the fixture.

    The good news according to lighting manufacturers (who are going crazy with this) is that the future is not CFL, or fluorescent tubes or new fangled incandescent bulbs. It's LED lights. Right now they are too expensive but they will come down in price eventually.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    9 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Howdy, Gus--

    LOL--That's about the size of it, eh? Thanks for stopping by!

  • GusTheRedneck profile image

    Gustave Kilthau 

    9 years ago from USA

    Howdy DzyMsLizzy - I am too busy saving pennies toward getting one of those 50-buck type bulbs that I no longer have time to read or to write. :)

    Gus :-)))

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    9 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello again, topaz blue--That I would not know--I've never been there, but from what I've seen in pictures and TV travelogues, it looks gorgeous!

  • profile image

    topaz blue 

    9 years ago

    Mmmmmmm! I still wonder though if that can beat a winter/summer under the CairnGorm Mountains in the Highlands of Scotland.

    Keep having fun!

    Topaz Blue

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    9 years ago from Oakley, CA

    @ Davesworld--Thanks very much for your contribution. No, you don't sound like a "nutter," in fact, I wish I'd thought to stockpile incandescents myself! (There are some still available--I might now embark on just such a quest--thanks for the idea!)

    You are correct about 'burn time' with those CFL's -- up to a point. The ones we have for our outside lights are certainly on for plenty of time to "warm up," yet still they don't live up to the claimed lifespan. In fact, I need to edit the article to reflect that, because it is also true of incandescents--that expansion/contraction thing--every time the light is switched on/off, it stresses the filament. I got sidetracked somewhere along the way, and didn't finish my thought on that aspect.

    In fact, we were forced into the flourescents in our kitchen when we remodeled back in 2007--they are now required by code! So, instead of just one or two recessed fixtures, I had them install NINE to compensate!

    I appreciate your comment, and a happy belated birthday to you!

    @ topaz blue--I'm pleased you enjoyed the article. I don't know whether the SAD bulbs are available only in flourescent or not..I do know that incandescents also come in a "daylight" spectrum...I've used them for years with photography, to eliminate that yellow-tinted look when working without a flash. One of the main reasons we moved to where we are now, is that I suffered from SAD in the SUMMER! Pacifica and San Francisco have cold, windy, foggy, nasty summer weather. I don't actually mind bad weather in the winter--it's supposed to be nasty weather then...but in the summer, it was very depressing. I was born and raised in SF, and always hated the summers. You know what Mark Twain said, right? "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

    Many thanks for your input. Cheers!

  • profile image

    topaz blue 

    9 years ago

    Very interesting hub! My husband and I have had similar discussions surrounding this very topic. In November 2011 though, I changed most bulbs to the SAD bulbs .... my choice, and my husband agreed, and I do feel these have made a difference to my mood throughout the winter months.

    Many thanks for a great read!

    Topaz Blue

  • Davesworld profile image


    9 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

    I refused to participate in the incandescent light bulb ban. I use one 100-watt bulb and have 8 replacements in my house. We use 30 some 60 watters and already I have stockpiled nearly 200 of them. Makes me sound like a nutter, I know, but I have enough bulbs on hand to last my lifetime - I turned 64 last December.

    The thing I noticed with CFLs is not only is the light poor, but if you use it in an application where you turn the light on for brief periods of time (less than 2 minutes) the bulb will burn out in only a few weeks. CFLs need to be on for a couple minutes each time you use them to get up to operating temperature before you shut them off. No good for a closet light, or a utility room light where you flick it on, find what you're looking for and flick it off in less than a minute.


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