The buzz on bulbs

With legislation pending in California to phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs, a lot is being said about their energy- efficient successor: compact fluorescent lights.

Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, says CFLs are a bright idea. If every home in America replaced one light bulb with a CFL it would result in enough saved energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year. Further, the switch would prevent the production of greenhouse gases in an amount equivalent to taking nearly 800,000 cars off the road.

Energy Star puts its stamp of approval on products that meet certain energy-saving levels. CFL bulbs that make the grade meet the following standards:

Power savings: Energy Star-approved compact flourescent lights must use at least two-thirds less energy than standard incandescent bulbs to provide the same amount of light.

Lifespan: The energy-saving bulbs must last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, and save $30 or more in energy costs over the lifetime of the bulb.

Radiant heat: CFLs must generate 70 percent less heat than standard incandescent bulbs. A cooler bulb is safer and can reduce air-conditioning costs, too.

CFLs do contain small amounts of mercury. Energy Star recommends consumers contact their local solid waste department for disposal options, or visit to locate recycling programs.