How do I get the most from my CFLs?
According to ENERGY STAR®
, the following will help you get the most out of your CFLs:
What do I do when my CFL has reached the end of its life?
- When screwing in your CFL hold it by the ballast (the plastic part), not the glass tubing.
- Turning a CFL on and off frequently can shorten its life. To maximize the life of your CFL, keep them on for 15 minutes or longer at a time.
- If using a CFL in an area of high humidity, such as a bathroom, control the humidity in the room by running the ventilating fan during and 15 minutes after a shower or bath.
- Use only bulbs labeled as three-way in three-way sockets.
- The majority of photocells, motion sensors and electric timers are not designed to work with CFLs. Always check for compatibility.
- CFLs are sensitive to extreme temperatures, so place your CFLs in open fixtures indoors.
- Protect bulbs from the elements by placing them inside enclosed fixtures outdoors. For colder climates, look at the packaging for optimal operating temperatures.
The EPA recommends that consumers take advantage of available local recycling options for compact fluorescent light bulbs. The EPA is working with CFL manufacturers and major U.S. retailers to expand recycling and disposal options. Consumers can contact their local municipal solid waste agency directly, or visit the EPA CFL recyling page
to identify local recycling options.
What do I do if a CFL bulb is broken?
Please do not be alarmed. According to the EPA
and Underwriters Laboratory
the following steps are recommended for CFL clean up and reflect best practices for cleaning up a broken CFL. Keep in mind that a CFL contains a very small amount of mercury — an average of 4 milligrams. By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury.
Sources: U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR®; Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.
- Before cleanup
- Have people and pets leave the room.
- Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
- Shut off the central forced air heating/air conditioning (H&AC) system, if you have one.
- Collect materials (i.e. stiff paper or cardboard, sticky tape, damp paper towels and a glass jar with a lid) needed to clean up the broken bulb.
- During cleanup
- Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.
- Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.
- After cleanup
- Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be properly disposed. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
- For several hours, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the HVAC system shut off.