How Green Are You?


Compact_fluorescentI’m pretty green, but not so green that I didn’t engage in absurd slapstick with my husband over compact fluorescent bulbs. He’d install them, I’d remove them, he’d install them.  I’m afraid he’s winning the war of attrition.

But I’m glad to see I’m not alone in hating them.  The New York Times has a very funny piece the subject, "Any More Bright Ideas?"


  1. I’m not that keen on CFLs just yet – it’s the light quality and the mercury disposal issue that makes me hesitate. That makes it really hard to put my all into convincing my husband to make the change (I’m the greener member on this team and thus, the instigator of eco-action). We have switched to halogen in a number of places so that’s a step in the right direction. And I nag, er, uh, remind everyone to turn off lights when they leave a room. And we buy our power from renewable sources (an option our electrical provider offers). Yet I still feel guilty twinges for not making the CFL switch yet.

    Thanks for the post, Michele, and for providing that link. It had good information. I just might try one of the CFLs that received positive marks.

  2. What bothers me most is not the quality of the light (though I can’t say I like it) but the fact that the fluorescents don’t last the five years claimed for them. Many don’t last us a year. At first I thought perhaps the quality of our electricity was to blame, but this article ( convinces me that the quality has indeed gone down hill. We even had one start smoking on us. They are not a bargain in terms of cost savings.

    We find mixing the original kind with the natural light kind (harder to find) in multiple bulb ceiling fixtures helps with the color problem. But I haven’t found any that light up well in an outdoor fixture on a bitterly cold night.

  3. I have quite a few old table and floor lamps that have a glass shade that has the wires that fit over the incadascent bulb. Won’t work over the flourescent ones.

  4. I bought a clever thingy that screws into a ceiling fixture for the laundry room, that turns the light on when you enter, and off when you leave! . Guess what – it doesn’t work with CFLs, only regular incandescants.

  5. I’ve likewise found the CFLs to not last very long, given the promises, and I couldn’t see in the basement with the one I tried. Surely improvements will come.

  6. I’m the same way, Michele! He puts them up. I take them down. The quality of light isn’t there yet, or I need to research better bulbs.

    Plus, I read that compact fluorescents emit UV light, which is bad for your skin. I don’t know the degree to which they do that, but it’s still a minus in my book.

    I’ve also noticed that certain LED Xmas lights are very bright, but sorta flickery like a bad computer monitor. Not pretty.

    We need a better bulb.

  7. CFLs, even the supposed warmer colors, are cold–makes me feel like I’m in a dentist’s office or airport, two places I hate for sure. And you know, most of our fixtures require bublbs to hang upside down, CFLs don’t do that, but I have heard they’re making one that does but the price is extortion. We’re working to get up to halogens, and I yell at my wife to turn off lights and she yells at me to recycle cardboard. Lots of yelling.

  8. I never liked the color of regular incandescent bulbs – too yellow for my taste. I used a lot of halogen and “daylight” bulbs before I switched completely to CFL’s about a year ago. But you have to shop around because they vary a lot. Once again I find I prefer the ones that are labeled as “daylight.”

  9. I’ve been happy with my switch to CFLs. The light is a bit different, but nothing I didn’t get used to quickly. I’ve got quite a few lamps with off-white or patterned shades, and the light looks warm. Bulbs are long-lasting, as advertised.

    Those who want to save energy but keep regular light bulbs might want to check out the various dimmer systems on the market. Most of these do not work with CFLs–only regular bulbs. These can save a tremendous amount of energy because you can dial up only as much light as you need for the situation.

  10. I’m fully on board with CFL’s. Now that I’ve gone over, I can no longer tolerate the sickly yellow of incandescents. Which I also never liked, and would sometimes substitute with pink incandescents.

    When I need bright light for reading, or whatever, I especially like to use the CFLs in lamps with bendy stems. I point the light at the wall, or up, and the room fills with crisp, white light. I can read for hours and my eyes never get tired.

    As a rule, I find overhead light to be ghastly. We never use the overhead lights unless we lost something or need to clean. Otherwise, it’s table lamps all the way.

  11. I like CFL’s because they don’t have to be changed that often. To me, anything other than real sunlight is just generic illumination, so I don’t care as long as I don’t bump into walls and can see enough to read.

    I started using CFL’s at work in a fixture in the walk-in refrigerator because nobody would ever bother to tell me it had burned out. That light saw a lot of use, so I was changing bulbs every two weeks, and I was tired of doing that. I was also tired of hitting the switch and getting nothing but blackness. I put in the CFL, and even though it made that walk-in refrigerator seem even creepier, it did NOT burn out in the remaining 3 years I worked in that department.

  12. Yes, and traditional light bulbs have lead (or was it nickle?) quality does vary widely. I have some that do give a soft light and come on quickly and last a long time. Others… well, one thing I have learned is that flourescnets take more energy to turn on and less energy to stay on. Thus, CFs are good for lamps, bad for garages or refrigerators where they are only on a short time. They also need ventilation. If they are completely enclosed (light some cieling lights) they do not last long at all.

    There is not silver bullet in environmentalism.

  13. CFLs are fine for lamps and fixtures that are turned on and left on for a while. For lights that you only use briefly, like lights in a closet or the bulb in your refrigerator, incandescent can actually save energy. It takes a certain amount of energy to get the CFLs and fluorescent tubes to light up, about as much as it takes to keep them lit five or ten minutes (depending on the bulb).


    I have my full-spectrum Verilux bulb right here on my desk! A joy to read and write by… He still complains about it! No way!

  15. We use only cfl’s in our house. Well I think the fridge is incadesent still.

    My Daughters can’t seem to remember to turn their bedroom light off, no matter how many times I tell them. So I know that the cfl light has saved some money.

  16. My husband, who writes about this stuff for a living, has the nerve to argue that putting compact fluorescents in every lamp would do more to minimize my carbon footprint than my growing all of the family’s vegetables for six months of the year.

    No way, I say. The virtue’s in the garden.

  17. Ugh. I’m with the decorators about the harsh light, and I don’t like the mercury in the CFLs. I use very little light in my home at night anyway (usually about 2 lights are on), so our electric bills are usually quite low.

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