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Illuminating facts about fluorescent bulbs

We really can Change the World by changing just one light bulb. If each household changed one standard bulb for one compact fluorescent bulb, California could:

  • Reduce energy use by up to 616 million kilowatt hours of electricity in one year. That's enough energy to light all the households in Sacramento for 690 days - or almost two years!

  • Save $74.7 million a year on household electricity bills.

  • Reduce garbage by keeping up to a billion (yes, a billion) bulbs out of the trash. Each fluorescent bulb can last up to 10 times longer than an ordinary bulb, so think of all those bulbs that won't be thrown away.

  • Keep 974 million pounds of carbon dioxide or CO2 out of the environment. CO2 is the most common gas that contributes to global warming. That's 450 pounds of CO2 saved from the atmosphere with each fluorescent bulb. Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, are produced by the power plants that light your home.

  • If every household changed just one bulb, it would be about the same as:

    • Removing 85,000 cars from California's roads for one year.

    • Filling 32.5 billion basketballs with CO2. Placed side by side, the basketballs would stretch for 4.6 million miles.


Other bright ideas


  • Change the bulbs in lights that you use the most, such as the kitchen ceiling lights, living room lamps, bathroom vanity, or porch light.


  • Keep your home cooler in the summer by using fluorescent lighting. A fluorescent bulb generates 70 percent less heat than a regular bulb.


  • Save $30 or more in energy costs over the life of each compact fluorescent bulb. What could your family buy with the extra cash?


  • Learn about other choices in energy-saving lighting for your home, such as cool halogen or LED bulbs and fixtures or ENERGY STAR lighting. For more information, visit:




Be careful where you toss that bulb!

Do not throw old or broken fluorescent bulbs in the trash. Because the bulbs contain tiny amounts of mercury, you should bring them to stores that collect old bulbs or to hazardous waste collection sites where they can be properly recycled. If a fluorescent bulb breaks, do not vacuum up the broken glass. Put on a pair of disposable gloves, clean up the pieces with a damp paper towel, and seal everything in a plastic bag or in a container, such as an old margarine tub. The bagged pieces should be brought to the hazardous waste site with your old fluorescent bulbs.

To find a recycling site, or for more on what to do with broken bulbs, visit the California Integrated Waste Board's Web page on fluorescent lamps and tubes www.ciwmb.ca.gov/WPIE/FluoresLamps/#HowToRecyDis
or call Earth 911 at 800-CLEAN-UP (253-2687).


Want more information about light bulbs or energy?

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Page Updated: October 2006
© 2006 California Energy Commission. All rights reserved.