CFLs light up the green life 2007.12.19

Written by David Green. Posted in Feature Stories

By DAVID GREEN

Some people love ‘em. Others hate ‘em. Either way, you’re likely to see a whole more of the twisty CFL light bulbs.

The compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) is making its way into more and more light sockets around the world as many citizens are ready to make the switch in an effort to cut energy use.

CFLs are expected to last much longer and use less than a third the energy of the traditional incandescent bulb.cfl_bulb.jpg

CFLs are also much costlier for the initial cash outlay, and that seems to be a problem for many buyers.

Dale Pfund, owner of D&R Hardware in Fayette, thinks that’s the reason sales haven’t blossomed at his store.

Take the CFL floodlights, for instance. The traditional bulb sells for $4.99 and typically lasts about six months before burning out. The CFL version sells for $14.99 and is expected to last for four years.

The savings is obvious, but so is the price tag.

“How do I convince the consumer of savings?” he says. “Will people spend the extra money to save? That price is the sticking point.”

He’s ordered a new CFL display unit from GE that will arrive in January and he’s hoping that will make a difference in sales.

Yellow porch lights, industrial lights for the barn, three-way lamps—the CFL options continue to grow.

Gail Johnson at Johnson Hardware in Morenci reports better success in moving CFLs out the door.

“About a year ago we started replacing regular bulbs on the shelf with the new ones and they’re a hot item,” she said. “People are really starting to buy them.”

She has plenty of satisfied customers, although she’s heard of problems with CFLs not fitting due to light fixtures that are too small to handle the new bulbs. This has particularly been a problem with three-way bulbs.

Johnson, herself, hasn’t quite adjusted to the light from a CFL at home, and some buyers think the light isn’t bright enough. Larry Fox isn’t among that crowd.

“I put them in every place that they’ll fit,” he said. “I think they give off just as much light and I think the light is softer on the eyes. I’m sold on them. I think they’re great and my likes them, too.”

Some studies have detected a male/female divide in CFL acceptance, with females reporting more dissatisfaction with the new lights. Nancy Simpkins takes exception to that.

“They’re brighter than they were at first and I love them,” she said. “A year ago I started putting them throughout the house and I haven’t had to replace one yet.”

She appreciates the opportunity to participate in a “greener” lifestyle.

“Anything we can do that’s that simple, I think everyone should do.”

Pfund was told at a trade show that CFLs are the coming thing and that incandescent bulbs won’t even be available in a few years.

That’s soon to be the case in Australia where incandescents will be phased out by 2010.

Earlier this month, Ireland topped that by announcing the end of incandescent sales in that country by the end of 2008.

The energy environment minister was quoted as saying, “These bulbs use technology invented during the age of the steam engine.”

Nancy Simpkins would agree. For anyone grumbling about the new CFLs, she says to consider this: “They’re much better than lantern light.”

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