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I just moved into my own apartment, and I've taken quite an interest in being as energy-efficient as possible (simply because, hey - I'm paying the electricity bill now!).

I've been wondering - are Compact fluorescent lamp (CFLs) as efficient as they claim to be? I detest the light that they give off, but if they're significantly cheaper to use (especially in contrast to how expensive they are in comparison to normal bulbs), then I might be persuaded to pick up a few.

I work almost constantly, so I probably don't use more than 3 or 4 hours of electric light daily, anyway.

So, is it worth the investment (and inconvenience)? I'm just a bit skeptical of something that claims to save me money by being 4-6 times the cost of the alternative.

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    New generation CFLs have much more cozy light than the old ones. Be sure to get a “warm” glowing bulb. They are more expensive though. Apr 12 '11 at 11:48
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    I actually did a test of this with my father when they were first becoming widely available. The answer was, yes. And I suspect even more so today. However, the reality is that other bulbs give off heat, so if you are in a cold climate where you always have the heat on, your heater will have to work that much harder, offsetting the cost. Also, Nice avatar.
    – DampeS8N
    Apr 12 '11 at 12:09
  • They will last longer and use less electricity. The electricity is quantifiable, given your electricity rate. The lasting longer is going to be more difficult to measure. Apr 12 '11 at 12:20
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    It will make a difference on your light bill yes. But if you have electric heating, it may not make a big difference on your electricity bill as you may have to heat more instead. If you live in a hot climate and use air conditioners a lot, low energy lightbulbs of any sort should be a good investment (although I prefer LED, as they are less full of poisons). Apr 12 '11 at 12:32
  • @Lennart, you should really make that an answer instead of a comment.
    – Kevin
    Apr 12 '11 at 20:36
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If saving ~$500usd/year is significant then yes.

CFL v LED v INC

Source: Las Vegas Strip: An Energy Consumption Nightmare

Other tips:

  1. Smarter Switches
    Install motion-detecting switches that turn off lights when a room is empty.
  2. CPU Myth
    Shut down your PC if it will be idle more than 2 hours. The idea that turning a computer off and on shortens its life is a relic of the mainframe era.
  3. Bright Idea
    Use compact fluorescent bulbs. New models illuminate just as well as incandescents -- and operate on just over one quarter of the power.
  4. Cold Truth
    Keep your refrigerator or freezer full; it operates more efficiently that way. Low on food? Keep a container of ice in the freezer.

Source: Popular Mechanics

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    Keep in mind that CFL lifetimes are greatly reduced when used for brief periods of time, but often. While constant evening-time lighting is generally on for the duration of evening activities, in places like the bathroom, where the bulb is on for 1-10 minutes at a time (but can turn on 10-20 times a day depending on the number of tenants), the energy benefit of switching to CFL is offset by the shortened lifespan.
    – crasic
    Apr 13 '11 at 2:03
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    Huh? For incandescent they quote 3285 KWh per year is about 9 KWh per day or 400W of lights turned on for 24 hours (or more lights for a shorter time). If you simply turn lights out when not in the room, doesn't that seem like a bit much?
    – Paul
    Apr 13 '11 at 4:06
  • @Paul: Yeah, that's a bit high. They also forgot to lower the heating bill by 9 KWh per day. :) Apr 13 '11 at 7:31
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    @Ernie: In some places you do, yeah. The point being that this chart is only valid in places where you never heat (and for that matter, never use air conditioning). Jul 27 '11 at 3:26
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    This answer is highly misleading: The chart assumes 150 bulb hours per day, while the question suggests 3 to 4 bulb hours per day. So the electricity savings will be closer to $10/year than $500
    – eigensheep
    Mar 22 '17 at 11:25

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