Do CFL Bulbs Really Save Money? Explore Energy Savings in Your Condo or Home

October 25, 2010 · 0 comments

in Energy Saving

Energy costs are becoming more and more of a deciding factor that home buyers weigh in on when choosing to buy a particular home or condo over another. You can get a quick snapshot of the current owner’s energy use and monthly expense by contacting the local utility companies. As a new owner you can challenge yourself to improve the home’s carbon footprint by exploring energy saving alternatives. One simple and quick way to get started is to consider converting to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. CFL bulbs are well known for conserving energy. They also are designed to last at least six times longer.

However, CFL bulbs cost a lot more upfront.

Aside from purely environmental considerations, do they actually save money? Possibly even more to the point, do they really last?

For weeks, I was skeptical. In my experience as a homeowner, I have found that some light bulbs from the same package last longer than others. This is especially true for bulbs placed inside ceiling fixtures. Heat gets entrapped inside the fixtures where there is nowhere for it to escape. Some break even before they even get connected properly within a socket. It seems there could be reasons NOT to invest in them if the objective is to save a few cents worth of electricity each month.

To investigate, this week I sampled a package of four CFL spiral bulbs at a home improvement store. The box cost $7.88, compared to $2.39 for a set of incandescent bulbs with the same brand. Both products were designed to generate approximately 800 lumens of light. Interestingly, the CFL bulbs came in a new, smaller “T2” size, meaning they are designed to fit inside most fixtures. After I noticed that, I read the fine print on the packaging: to my surprise, the manufacturer actually offered a two-year replacement warranty. Changing a set of three bulbs in a ceiling fixture once every two years instead of once every four months? Sign me up!

To calculate possible monthly savings, consider that the incandescent bulb consumes 60 watts, the CFL, 13. After subtracting the difference, convert that to kilowatt hours (kWh) by multiplying by 0.001, as a kWh is 1,000 watts operating for one hour. The current price per kWh in my geographical area, including taxes, is 10.1705 cents. Let us say you rely on a 3-bulb ceiling fixture to provide light for an average of four hours a day. Within 30 days, you’ll save $1.72 from this fixture alone—and more if you do much work from home.

Parting Tip #1: CFL bulbs do go on sale! Watch for them within ads from nearby home improvement stores.

Tip #2: As you install the product into fixtures, hold the bulb from its ballast, which is the middle plastic portion, instead of from its glass. Otherwise, the extra force on the glass can cause damage.

Tip #3: CFL bulbs CANNOT be thrown away. However, there are all kinds of recycling programs in place, including some located within home improvement stores. Check the Internet for many more options.

Search all Minneapolis condos online at and contact Andy Asbury to learn which Minneapolis lofts are right for you. His team focuses on luxury condominium residences like the Carlyle Minneapolis and the Phoenix on the River.

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