Summary: CFL Bulbs: Good or Bad for the Environment?
Q: I've heard that CFL bulbs contain mercury and that mercury is
dangerous. So how can CFL bulbs be "good" for the environment?
A: This is a case of taking something that should be a positive and trying to make
it into a negative. I'm not sure why all of this mis-information is directed at CFL
bulbs, but here is my take on it.
First of all, CFL bulbs use about 1/4th of
the electricity of a normal bulb, and they
last much longer (I have seen claims of
10x longer, but my personal experience
has been more like 5, but that's a detail).
That is a factor of 20-40x less electricity
used over the life of the bulb. There are
not many places where such an
outstanding improvement in efficiency can
be obtained so easily. Since most of our
electricity comes from burning coal,
reducing electricity usage reduces the
amount of coal that needs to be burned.
Secondly, it is absolutely true that CFL