SURVEY SAYS: Have You Seen the Light on Fluorescent Light Bulbs?

April 7, 2011 ( - Beginning next year, the incandescent light bulb will be phased off the U.S. market, courtesy of legislation passed in 2007.   

By now we’ve all heard the arguments – that the compact fluorescent bulb that stands to replace it is more efficient, will save energy, and will save money (at least once you take into account the energy savings and the life of the bulb).  But many claim that fluorescent bulbs don’t provide lighting that is as good as the incandescent – and there’s the concerns about the Mercury (albeit a small amount) in the fluorescent version.   

This week I asked readers what kind of preparations they had – or were planning to – make. 

Well, the most common response this week was far from a majority, and that 22.3% said that they hadn’t really given the issue much thought.  

Just under 25% were either “moving ahead with the new bulbs” or “happily moving ahead with the new bulbs” – split nearly evenly between those two options.  Beyond that, 15.7% were stockpiling the old bulbs, 10.7% were hoping the law would be changed (legislation has been introduced to do that, but…), and 5.8% were still trying to make up their mind on the issue. 

However, those totals didn’t include the one-in-five who opted for “other.”  What were THEY doing?

Most of those could probably best be categorized as being opposed to the move, but perhaps not very optimistic that they would be able to do anything to forestall the effort.  There were exceptions to that, of course – some wanted to choose both stockpiling the old and hoping for a change, for instance, while others were not only already using the new fluorescents, but seemed pretty satisfied with them.  But the overwhelming majority – weren’t very keen on the idea.   

Here’s a sampling: 

Among those stockpiling (or contemplating stockpiling): 

Need to check my various lamps and light fixtures to determine if I should stockpile incandescent bulbs. 

I have stockpiled some bulbs because I have a couple of lights where the CFL bulbs are too large for the light.  Hopefully, the CFL bulbs will be made smaller at sometime in the future.  I do use the CFL bulbs where I can. 

Thank you for reminding me!  I would choose "stockpiling old bulbs" (I'll begin doing this), and "hoping the law will be changed".  I do use the fluorescent bulbs in many places, but those bulbs don't work in combination with automatic light-sensing devices (e.g. my outside garage lights), so I still need to be able to use incandescent bulbs.  So, looks like I'd better get busy buying/stockpiling those bulbs just in case! 

Nothing yet....thanks for the stockpiling idea. 

Haven't really given it any thought but now that you bring it up I will start stockpiling the old bulbs.  Thanks for the heads up. 

It's my husband's job to buy the bulbs and he's against the whole movement.  For now, he's just buying bulbs as we need then and not stockpiling. 


Among those ready, willing, and already using the new bulbs: 

Honestly, it's time people realized we need to make some changes.  It's amazing to me how selfish people can be over the most ridiculous of's the same as saying you won't buy a hybrid because the car doesn't have as much pick-up, even though it will save you money and help save the environment. your life really going to be that impacted by a new lightbulb?  If so, you need to get a grip on reality.  Grow up and focus on worrying about something that will truly have an impact on your life, like social security, the federal debt, or even the the rising cost of potato chips. 

Already replaced most of the bulbs in my house - have noticed a difference in the electric bill and that I'm not replacing them every third week like the old ones. Bring it on! 

Haven't bought an incandescent bulb since the rolling blackouts in California under the Davis administration. 

Have been using both bulbs for years.  Since the price of the incandescent bulbs is so low (and there are always sales), I pick up a few, even if I don't need them. 

I switched over the CFBs several years ago, when my electric rates started going through the roof. 



Some had made the switch, but weren’t completely happy about the results: 

We started to use the new fluorescent bulbs and have had a good number of them "pop"/go out due to the fluctuations in the electricity supply that we have in this part of the country.  The old incandescent ones were much more forgiving of slight fluctuations, so we are definitely against the higher cost replacement of the new bulbs that last but a small fraction of time. 

I like the energy savings from the flourescent bulbs, but I do get concerned about the mercury.  Therefore, I'm probably going to start looking for the LED type bulbs, which are even more energy efficient than flourescent.  Of course, just as those start to become the standard, we'll probably find out that one kitten and one puppy are killed every time one is manufactured. 

Hoping my old bulbs don't burn out soon, but using some of the new ones anyway 

Stockpiling the ones for my kitchen recessed lights, but hoping the new designs coming on the market will make that not necessary. 

We've been using the new bulbs for years.   I don't think that the incandescents should have been entirely phased out.    I use the fluorescent bulbs in all my regular fixtures, but I much prefer incandescents when working on cross stitch or other detailed work.   It is a sharper light.   I would have preferred a tax on incandescents that would be used to help develop alternative energy.   This would both deter people from using incandescents everywhere, and also help us in the future. 

Hoping the law changes as even small amounts of mercury are toxic and don't want to see it enter our water supply.  Conscientious people will dispose of properly but many won't.  I also think that they do not provide lighting as good as the incandescents and will stockpile some. 

Both stockpiling the old bulbs AND hoping the legislation will change. We use both incandescent light bulbs and energy saving light bulbs in our house. Since we have several dimmers in our house, the energy efficient light bulbs that work with dimmers are NOT cost effective for us at this time. In addition, is the government forgetting the safety factor? Let's recognize the families with children in the house who knock over lamps playing. Or, those people who have trouble turning on a lamp and knock it over. When that energy efficient light bulb breaks, are people aware of how to safely clean up a mercury spill? And, what happens to the child who tries to clean up that mess before Mom and Dad find out about it. Thus, in my house, there are NO energy efficient light bulbs in our table lamps. 

New bulbs are not warm and have a mercury risk that should not be ignored. 

 And some were, well:  

"Doing a little bit of both.  I have installed some of the new bulbs and the light is not want it used to be. It is dim like the US Government now.  

With fairly poor eyesight, I have a difficult time reading with regular light.  I often cannot read with the fluorescent bulb.  However, as we are all looking for ways to improve efficiency and better renewable energy sources and take action that does not adversely impact the environment, I am torn. 

Huh?! We're legislating light bulbs...ummm, ahhh, hmmm, ahh...I'll get back to you on that. 

Hey, I didn't even know it was going to happen! I've changed over to the compact fluorescents in almost everything, but I do still have a few places where I prefer the old fashioned bulbs' lighting. I guess I'll get a stash of the ones I like when it gets near the end for them.  And where do you find a CFL for the refrigerator?? 

Maybe I'll just go back to candles and the heck with it! 

But this week’s Editor’s Choice – one for the ages, IMHO, came from the reader who observed, “Who needs light bulbs?!?  Don't we all "burn the midnight oil"... 

Beyond those comments, we had a number of entertaining and informative verbatims – and they run the gamut of perspectives – a sampling is provided on the pages that follow – enjoy, and thanks to everyone who participated in our survey! 

I'm more concerned about all the "dim bulbs" in DC who can't seem to get their act together to get our collective house in order.  Lights out Friday? 

I doubt seriously that changing my lightbulbs will save the universe, but I have switched and have no issues with the brightness (you have to buy the ones marked "bright"!) and the mercury is only an issue if you break it.  I grew up in a house with a mercury switch on the furnace and it didn't hurt me.  Or wait, maybe that explains alot...... 

I really think the government has no business telling us what light bulbs we can use. 

I'm not having any luck with the CFBs lasting as long as I've been told they should.    I've had several quit working in less time that a typical incandescent. 

"I still have my glass thermometer with mercury in it and it still works - 32 years and going -  

Light bulbs won't expire - so I've cleared the shelf in my closet and in they go - every shopping trip I addone or two packages of four bulbs. In fact, I'm feeling so crushed by government regulation, I may go out today and spend $100 on more bulbs!   

Tell the government to go to hell for me - will you?" 

My stockpile is 4 boxes of 100 watt bulbs. But the funny thing is, I never use anything greater than 75, so why I'm I panicking? 

I'm not wild about their "slow to glow" properties or color but they are improving.  Wish they were made in the USA. 

I hope the republican congress rescinds this over-reach by government. Let the free-market determine the lighting we want to use. 

If the law is not changed, let's hope that fluorescent bulbs are improved.  Also, how many fluoreescent bulbs will end up in landfills?  Aren't we just replacing one problem with another? 


Yes --- this sounds fickle --- but the new bulbs don't fit as well, some stick out over/under current I have to buy new lamps and fixtures, too!?! 

What next -- is the government going to mandate what kind of toilet paper we all use?? 

While these bulbs may save money in the long run with production, etc....they are horrible for our health. Numerous studies have shown that the light given off by florescent bulbs causes numerous health and emotional issues. I cannot believe they are wanting us to use them exclusively! 

"With presbyopic eyes, I can't see as well with the new bulbs.  And it infuriates me that the government would make such a strained change when the newer lights are less light producing, which is why you use a light bulb to start with.  And the government telling me which bulb I have to use is even infuriating-er.   


The wave of light must be different.  The rooms seem darker to me, and the added inane disposal criteria with the newer ones is beyond rediculous, IMHO.  It makes me wonder whose brother-in-law owns a new factory.  But I'm such a cynic!" 

Let the market set what product people want to buy.  Legislators should have been paying attention to the economy stupid in 2007 instead of writing legislation mandating what type of light bulb is best for the citizenry.  If we're too dim to pick the right bulb, then we must be too dumb to elect the right people to office. 

"I do dislike the CFLs.  I am all for saving money, but I have YET to have a CFL that has lasted as long as the box says it will.  BUT, here's the rub: I buy my bulbs in buld from Costco.  Costco has an unlimited return policy for everything but TVs and computers.  So when I install a bulb, I write the date on the base in a Sharpie.  When it dies, I write the date it died.  The most I've gotten is two years, which is what I got with my old halogen bulbs.   


When I get a box of dead bulbs together, I take the box and the receipt (which I save) to Costco and return it for a refund.  Then I buy more. It's my way of telling Costco they need to get a better supplier.  

I do hope the LEDs will come down in price and increase in brightness over the next couple of years.  We really like 100 watt output in all of our fixtures.  LEDs are up to 75 watt output at this point, and those bulbs cost $35 each versus $16 for FOUR CFLs (and the old style were probably a couple bucks for 4).   


This is really a perfect example of how screwed up our government it.  They mandate we switch to a new product that costs more, doesn't seem to work as well, doesn't last as long, and is a danger to the environment.  I can't wait for Atlas Shrugged the Friday!  Woo hoo!" 

I'm stockpiling for some, not all, of the bulbs I use because the flourescent bulbs just don't look right and/or don't fit in some fixtures! 

I'm still looking for a lightbulb that will last more than a few months! 

Don't tell me what kind of lightbulbs to use in my house, Big Brother. 

The government has got to stop interfering in our lives.  Let markets decide. 

Back when the compact florescent bulbs first came out, there was a run on the incandescent bulbs and I couldn't find any when I needed them.  So I purchased a large package of the compact florescent bulbs at a big box store.  Over time, I replaced the incandescent bulbs as they burned out and I still have bulbs left in the original package I bought over 3 years ago.  I have not had a compact bulb burn out over that same time frame.  I love that.  What I hate about the new bulbs is that they render my dimmer switches absolutely useless. 

Again, big government mettling in the lives of its "children".  Those in charge forget that one of the biggest criticisms of the new bulbs is the time it takes them to warm up to normal performance levels.  If you switch on a light with one of these new bulbs, for example in a closet, you won't see much until the bulb heats up -- so is electricity really being saved or are we being conned again!   And, like the old fluorescent tubes, many are the blue/white version -- not flattering to anything or to anyone.  An office or family room can resemble a morgue. 

They've got to cut the price of CFs at least in half or else the people will revolt!!  I'm all for energy efficiency but it must be affordable.  The only CFs I have came with a fan I recently bought.  I think they give good lighting but they're ugly. 

Stockpiling and hoping the law changes, at least until they come up with some sort of energy efficient bulb that doesn't bother my light-sensitive eyes (due to Ocular Rosacea)!  Also can't fathom how they will keep people from throwing the compact fluor. bulbs in the regular trash, when the bulbs must be recycled to keep the Mercury from getting into the ground water. 

I have already changed all of our bulbs to compact fluorescents.  We owe it to future generations to do what we can to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse emissions.  In addition, the production of electricity releases more mercury into the environment than the small amount found in fluorescent bulbs.  As an aside, we have a rule in our house - turn off the light if you will out of the room for more than 60 seconds.  This rule along with the cfls has dramatically reduced our lighting bill. 

I haven't been able to find a new bulb that works well with a two-way or three-way lamp or dimmer.  If I could, I would not mind doing the bulb replacement.  Beats having to replace all my two-way and three-way lamps! 

The problem I'm having is that the CFLs do not fit in some of my fixtures.  In effect, mandating a new bulb is mandating new fixtures.  That really sucks!  I'd rather they came up with a bright bulb that was as cheap as the incandescent (or nearly) and fit my lamp! 

Give us a choice. If we want to pay more for incandescents, we should be able to have that opportunity. 

The fluorescent bulbs are not as bright, and as an "older" person, it's harder to read with them.  Also I have purchase a number of them and find that the lifespan is often not very long and they have to be replaced.  I am also concerned about the mercury as a hazardous waste disposal problem.  My son is involved with the utilities and the Department of Energy regarding the nuclear spent fuels (no place to to put them)...I would hate to see this evolve into a similar problem. 

I hope that a safe way to dispose of the new bulbs along comes along with the new regulation.  Otherwise there are way more important issues to be concerned about than light bulbs. 

I don't like the look of the fluorescents, especially in my ceiling light fixtures.  Our country has far too much regulation that infringes upon our personal lifes.....this being one. 

CF bulbs should have a sur-tax, or deposit, on them.  You would get that back when the burned out bulb was returned to a store.  Hopefully, that would allow for proper recycling and keep the mercury out of the landfills (hence, into our water supply). 


Let the market work. If you have to mandate the use of CFLs, that shows people aren't yet satisifed with the performance given their price.  Another example of overregulation by the government. 

I have never seen a "new" bulb that would fit the smaller diameter fixtures in my older home.  Presumably that will need to be addressed in the next year, or they will be extending the effective date!  Also, the cost of the bulbs seems excessive to me.   So far as stockpiling, what I am trying to stockpile are the new style bulbs that I can get for free whenever the city does a promo-giveaway for the new bulbs! 

I'm still trying to picture how cartoons will look when someone gets an idea.  And what about Uncle Fester?  Also wondering if my wife will look the same when she puts on her makeup in fluorescent light. 

"My husband has been sneaking the new bulbs into the house. 

He has told me the cost savings would be in their long life, but they don't last any longer 

than the old style.  Also the light is faint and bluish when turned on.  You have to wait for 

them to warm up to their full strength.  I turn them on and walk out of the room, because 

I don't like the dim light.  Then I come back when they are full strength. 

So having the light on longer for it to warm up is more efficient how?" 

If you have been using the new bulbs for the past several years, you know about the improvement in the quality of the light of the bulbs over time.  Now you really can't tell the difference!  The only problem I have is the new 3-way bulbs are so big, it's tough to fit them into the lamp. 

"My decision to stockpile was made after reading about how to dispose of a CFL that has broken. This excerpt is straight from EnergyStar's website:   

Because CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal guidelines: 

1. Before Clean-up: Air Out the Room 

Have people and pets leave the room, and don't let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.  Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.  Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one. 

The entire guidelines are 2-pages long.  Didn't know you had to have a degree to dispose of a lightbulb!" 

In the wake of the earthquake and tsunami in Tokyo, how can anyone really believe they have control over the earth and what happens to it?  Really?  We are powerless over the universe -- ask those affected by this most recent natural disaster what kind of light bulb they plan to use! 

We're finding that for many applications, the compact flourescents are superior, especially porch or other outdoor lights. For those situations where they just don't do the job, we've gone to halogen. 

I despise the sickly light that shines from the new bulbs. 

The compact flourescents give off an ugly, flickering light that causes headaches in some, and supposedly, seizures in those unfortunate enough to be susceptible. If a change is necessary, let's wait for the development of affordable LED lighting for indoors. 

Compact fluorescent bulbs are just another example of government gone amuck. Replacing one problem with another is lame-brained. Until they can come up with a solution to the so-called problem that gives me high-quality lighting without my having to worry about toxic leaks from broken bulbs, I'll be using my stockpiled old bulbs, then moving on to candlelight!