Try a compact fluorescent bulb for free

By Mir
October 16, 2007
Category Hot Hot Hot!

If you haven’t made the switch to compact fluorescents, picture me tsking in your general direction. Yes, the light is nicer from conventional bulbs. But the CF bulbs really do last longer and use less energy and make the planet happier. (I keep a conventional full-spectrum bulb in one reading lamp, and have gone to CFs for everything else.)

Anyway, compact fluorescents cost a lot more, so if that’s what’s stopping you, go here. These folks will send you one free bulb. (They’ll also sign you up for a mailing list, so use your junk email to do it. But you’ll need to respond to a confirmation email to finish registering, so check for that email, first!)


  1. We made the switch long ago. They do take some getting used to, they are not bright from the get go. They warm up – and I think give off a better quality light. Better for the environment and the wallet – but a sticky situation for my brain lately was the proper way to dispose of them, as they do contain mercury, and if dropped!… Before my next one burned out I wanted to learn how to dispose of them correctly – no more just throwing them out with the everyday trash for me. There are some companies that make bulbs with lesser amts of mercury.

    “Under the voluntary commitment, effective April 15, 2007, NEMA members will cap the total mercury content in CFLs of less than 25 watts at 5 milligrams (mg) per unit. The total mercury content of CFLs that use 25 to 40 watts of electricity will be capped at 6 mg per unit.[34]”

    more info at wiki:

    (off my soap box…)

    Thank you, pretty Mir for this site!

  2. Ikea takes used CFs. They have some nice ‘decorator’-type bulbs at good prices, also.

  3. Some contra points:

    1. They don’t last as long as they say they do, which negates a lot of the cost savings. (The $24 worth of CFL “vanity fixture” bulbs in the kids’ bathroom took over 30 seconds to get up to full brightness after 18 months of use.) The bazillion year warranty (or whatever it is) won’t justify the time, hassle, and cost of returning the bulbs, assuming I have any clue where the receipt for the bulbs are.

    2. They’re not instant on (as others have noted). This not just takes getting used to, it’s annoying.

    3. They won’t fit in a lot of fixtures, either because they’re too big or, in the case of lamps with clip on shades, they’re not shaped like a traditional incandescent model.

    4. If the warm cast of incandescent light is endearing in a photo, the green cast of fluorescent is creepy. (Yeah, you can fix it with white balance if you shoot digital, but still a pain.)

    5. They don’t stay bright over the course of their lifetimes. If it’s rated for x lumens, I’d like .95x or more lumens until the thing dies. Otherwise, it’s not useful.

    6. The flickering might drive you nuts if you can see it.

    I do have a couple of positive points:

    1. They’re good outside, where temperature extremes (going from sub-freezing to hot enough to emit light) kill incandescent bulbs in about 40 on-off cycles it seems. CFLs aren’t bothered by temperature, and, on the porch, I don’t care if it takes a minute to get to full brightness.

    2. They’re good when you want a LOT of light (of any quality, even fluorescent) but don’t want to rewire a fixture to take more or hotter bulbs. I’ve got a Y-thing in the garage outlet, with a pair of 100W-equivalent fluorescents hanging on it. That delivers quite a bit of light — a LOT more than the max 100W incandescent it was originally intended for, and uses less power.

    Me? I REALLY like conserving power, but the tradeoffs with CFLs still outweighs most of the advantages. I say this as someone who did a gung-ho conversion early on, and bought a lot of CFLs. The cost benefits, though, didn’t materialize, especially when the CFLs starting dying at 2 years out.

    Hopefully, LED fixtures will get cheaper soon.

  4. no more free bulbs available there 🙁 due to the ‘overwhelming response’…

  5. At the Home Depot’s around here (Seattle area) there are basically free compact fluorescents. There are coupons that make a 4 pack, with tax $.31. Limit is like three.
    Check it out

  6. If you bought your bulbs a while back, you may be dealing with an older type of bulb. These do take longer to “warm up”. The newer spiral bulbs are pretty much instant on.

  7. I agree with Corey. The new bulbs are pretty much instant on. If they are outside and it is cold they will take longer to warm up.

    Most newer ones I’ve seen give pretty much bright white light. I’ve only seen one in the last few years that had a blueish tinge, and that was a mini u-tube design (as opposed to spiral) bought at a discount place and was most likely an older model.

    The CFL’s don’t last as long as advertised. Neither do incandescents.

    To me, the biggest drawbacks are:
    When they don’t fit a fixture/lamp shade because of the shape.
    When they are exposed and would look odd (though I suspect people generally don’t look at the bulb much).
    Finding a place to properly dispose of them. There is an argument in the environmental camp that says even if a CFL makes it to the landfill, it is more than offset by the reduced mercury emissions from the powerplant due to the reduced energy usage.

    CFL’s aren’t the answer for everything, but they are worth considering in a lot of applications.

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