Compact Fluorescentize Your House




Introduction: Compact Fluorescentize Your House

The new fad isn't the iPhone, or the Crocs. The new fad is Compact Fluorescent light bulbs! During this Instructable I will be replacing the word; Compact Fluorescent, with CFLs, to make it shorter, and less repetitive. As you might already know, CFLs use less energy than a regular Incandescent Light Bulb. Not only do they save energy, they also last much longer! What more could you ask for?

Though the price of the CFL is higher than an Incandescent bulb, the extra money spent is easily saved because of the longer output and energy saved. QuickFact: In the United States, a CFL can save over US$30 in electricity costs over the lamp's lifetime compared to an incandescent lamp and save 2000 times their own weight in Greenhouse Gases.

All Energy Star CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.

In this Instructable, I will be making my house, into a house of Compact Fluorescents! That means that every light bulb in my house, will become a Compact Fluorescent! I will show the many stores to purchase CFLs, I will calculate the approximate money saved by using CFLs, and teach you a little bit about how CFLs help the environment!

Not only do we put new CFLs in, we also have to recycle our old Incandescent Bulbs. I will teach everyone how to do that as well!

(Photo by PiccoloNamek from Wikipedia.)

Step 1: 7 Steps for Purchasing the Right CFL/Stores to Buy Them

What do you want to look for when you are buying CFLs?

1.Well first you have to decide where you will use them. A recommended fixture, is one that is left on 3 or more hours per day. You want to replace the bulbs that you use the most frequently first.

2.Make sure it will fit in your fixture. You wouldn't want to spend money on a CFL, and not have it fit into your fixture!

3.Check to make sure that the CFL is energy star compliant. What is Energy Star Compliant? It is a government that regulates programs and products that help save the environment and save consumers money by using less energy through advanced design or construction.

4.Circline or 2D styles are usually best for most table lamps. These also tend to be the brightest options.

5.Choose the Color Temperature, if listed, that's right for you; for example:
Approx. 2700K = Warm White (looks just like incandescent!)
Approx. 5000K = Cool White (White/Blue, often higher CRI)

6.Does your chosen fixture have a dimmer switch? If so, be sure your CFL choice is labeled to be Dimmable.

7.Avoid using CFL's with photocells unless the control is specifically labeled that is it compatible with CFLs. Timers are an easier option

Nowadays, any hardware store should carry CFLs. They are the new fad of course! The HomeDepot website has a very wide variety of them. Home Depot CFLs

Step 2: Disposing of Old/Burnt Out Light Bulbs

If you do not know where there is a place to drop off old light bulbs, you should follow the following instructions.

First go to Next, type in the first box, Light Bulbs, and in the zip code area, type in your zip code. Click GO. You should get a list of landfills/drop off areas for old light bulbs. I found one right down the road from me!

If you have light bulbs which contain PCBs and Mercury, you must:
1.Investigate and follow state and local requirements for handling and disposing of lamps.
2.If you have not tested your mercury-containing lamp wastes to show that they are not hazardous, then assume they are hazardous and dispose of them as hazardous waste.
3.Mercury-containing lamps that test hazardous must be handled in compliance with hazardous waste regulations.
4.Maintain permanent records of mercury-containing lamps that are disposed as hazardous waste.

For other light bulbs, you can dispose of them by putting them in a plastic bag (which isn't recyclable), and dispose of them in a trash can.

Step 3: Getting Started

Now it is time to make your house eco-friendly with your light bulbs. It is now time to gather up all of the CFLs in your home. Like I have below, I gathered up extras that I own. All the others are already in the fixture.

One picture below is a collection of the many shapes and sizes of CFLs. The second picture is all of my extra CFLs that I could scrounge up. Most of the others are in my fixtures somewhere.

Just gather all of your lights up, and bring them with you around your house. Put them in their fixture to see how well they fit, if not, try another one.

Step 4: The Basement

My basement is used often by me when I am working down there on my desk doing Electronics projects. There are two light fixtures down there, and both of them are currently using CFLs.

Because these are not used very often, they will last quite long! The light is the same as with an Incandescent, except there is the one second wait when you hit the switch for it to turn on.

Step 5: The Kitchen

Your Kitchen lights are one of the most used lights in your home. Switching to CFLs in your kitchen is essential to continue with eco-friendliness, along with great lighting in your kitchen.

I have two lights that are the same. The fixtures just hand down from the ceiling, and they are easy to switch the bulbs in and out. Be careful, if your kitchen lights are dimmable, make sure you purchase a dimmable CFL.

It is hazardous to use a standard CFL in a dimmable light fixture.

The pictures below show before and after of my kitchen lighting.

Step 6: Living Room

Now it is time for your living room! We have a light in our living room that can fit the CFLs that I own, but others are those small candle lights. So I cannot put a CFL in them.

But the main lighting is my Japanese light that is perfect for a CFL. Time to put one in!

This is the 4th bulb that I have switched out, and already I have saved:

My Energy Savings will pay for CFLs in just 10 Months!
$13 per year
Approximately I will save $181 in the life of the four CFLs
Also, I could buy 65 days of electricity with my savings!

Step 7: My Bedroom

My bedroom has one main light fixture. A ceiling fan with four lights in it. Recently I switched out of them because they were always getting burnt out. Now they have been going strong, and are continuing to go strong.

I switch these lights on every time I go to my bedroom. They are often used, and they provide awesome light.

Once I switched out of my old Incandescents in my room, the light seemed to be very much brighter. I felt that the light was better, since I switched to the CFLs.

I sleep in the attic, so it tends to get hot. There is a great Air Conditioning unit, and now the money saved can go towards paying for the AC.

Step 8: Savings All Together

Now for the final verdict!

Considering the circumstances, with 60Watt Bulbs, I changed 8 of them in my house. In PA, the approximate energy cost is $10.26cents/kw hour. The approximate number of hours my CFLs will last, is 10000 hours.

The savings that I will have are the following:

369.36 in Energy bill savings.
4,854pounds of C02 prevented

How was this calculated?
The calculator assumes that incandescent bulbs are replaced with compact fluorescent bulbs with one-fourth the wattage (e.g., a 100-watt incandescent bulb is replaced with a 25-watt compact fluorescent bulb).

State average CO2 emissions per kW-hour are for 1998-2000 and are from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Updated State-and Regional-level Greenhouse Gas Emission Factors for Electricity (March 2002).

Thank you to environmental defense for helping me calculate my energy savings!

Step 9: Recycling CFLs

There are multiple ways to recycle your CFLs. Here is a list I formulated with reserach from the interweb.

IKEA has a bin in every store where you can take back your bulbs when you need a new one.

One innovative system is LampTracker, which provides "collection and safe recycling of fluorescent bulbs using integrated on-line tracking capability and a unique shipping container design....It is a total-care approach to storage, handling, transport and recycling of fluorescent lamps. *Picture Below*

In step two I gave a link of a site for you to locate your nearest center to recycle your CFLs.

Check with your local solid waste disposal program to find out how to recycle CFLs in your area. It may not be entirely safe to throw them into your recycling bin, because it may require special handling or disposal at a hazardous waste facility.

Another way to use earth911 is when you check or call 1-800-CLEAN-UP for an automated hotline. Online, just enter your zip code, press GO, click Household Hazardous Waste, then fluorescent light bulb disposal. The site will identify your nearest residential mercury recycling facility or mail disposal method. If you find no specific information on CFL disposal, go back and click on the link for “Mercury Containing Items.”

Last Resort: If it turns out your local household hazardous waste collection site cannot accept compact fluorescent lamps for recycling, your only remaining option is to seal the CFL in a plastic bag and dispose of it with your regular trash.

Step 10: Pros and Cons

1. More cost-effective than incandescent bulbs.
2. Every CFL you use will save you about $30 over the life of the bulb.
3. CFLs can last 6 to 11 times longer than their incandescent counterparts.
4. Variety of shapes and sizes to match every families personal preference.
5. Newer generation CFLs come in cool light, soft light and day light versions, making it easier for consumers to choose different types of lights for different rooms in the house.

1. Their price up front.
2. The mercury that is inside of the CFL. (App. 5mg)
3. Sometimes light is not very good.
4. Certain company's make poor CFLs.
5. CFLs are made in India and China, where environmental standards are virtually non-existent.

It is important now for CFL manufacturers to organize a safe recycling system.

Step 11: But Why?

Here is the question:

Why would we want to do this?

In this new age of the sky falling over our environment, it is only necessary to innovate new ways to become more environmentally sound. My feeling is that if one of the smallest pieces of hardware in your house can last up to 10 time longer than its counterpart, DO IT!! Sure, there is the fraction of mercury in the CFL, but if our countries could make it easier to recycle old CFLs, and even Incandescents, wouldn't it make more people want to take part? Some people have to drive miles to dispose of old light bulbs. If we just made it easier on them, and put bins, and collected them every few days, it would reduce the amount of people lost when they feel that the CFL is too much maintenance.

What I am trying to say is that our world is moving rapidly into an eco-friendly era. It is up to us whether we can make the most of it.

Quite frankly, to answer my own question:

Why Not?

Step 12: What to Do If a CFL Breaks of Smokes.

What do I do if a CFL breaks or smokes?

Thank Consumer Reports for the answer to this question.

CFLs contain small amount of mercury, a neurotoxin. If a bulb breaks, follow these instructions from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Open the windows and leave the room for at least 15 minutes.
  • For hard floors, don't vacuum or sweep the mess. Instead, wear disposable rubber gloves and use cardboard or stiff paper to scoop up the debris. Then clean the area with a damp paper towel.
  • For rugs, use sticky tape to pick up any fragments and powder. Then vacuum the area if necessary.
  • Place the debris and cleanup materials into a plastic bag and seal it. Put that bag into another plastic bag and seal that one as well.
  • If your area allows it, and no other disposal or recycling options exist, place in trash outside. Wash your hands.
  • After vacuuming the area for the first time, remove bag or empy and wipe bin. Put bag or debris into a plastic bag and seal it. Then put that bag into another bag and seal it. Place in the trash outside.

Although it is rare, some CFLs smoke, smell, or darken at the base when they burn out. Currently all CFL materials must be self-extinguishing, so they won't catch fire, according to energy star.

If your CFL has a dramatic end, turn off power to the CFL. Once the bulb has cooled, remove it. Then send an email message with a photo of the bulb and its make and model to

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    one of these smashed on top of my friends dinner table while she was having dinner, she is now gone blind in one eye and deaf in one ear, she is now unable to concentrate on anything and is having major emotional issues. Mercury is extremely toxic! stop using these poisonous bulbs.

    here's what can happen if they break it your presence....

    A series of difficulties characteristic of mercury toxicity affecting the eyes

    • bleeding from the retina of one or both eyes
    • dim vision, expecially after exercise
    • slow and poor accommodation to changes in vision distances
    • Inability to fix one's gaze
    • uncontrollable eye movements
    • eyes drawn to one side
    • imaginary geometric figures appearing in the visual field, which migrate in a few minutes from the periphery toward the center and slowly disappear
    • "film" seeming to appear over the eyes
    • dry eyes
    • a gray ring forming permanently around the cornea (known as Arcus senilis)

    One or more heart difficulties:

    • irregular hearbeat (palpitations), often together with anxiety
    • stong pains in the left part of the chest come on

    Problems in the upper respiratory tract:

    • asthmatic breathing troubles, such as a feeling of not being able to inhale
    • A "cracking" sound in the lower part of the pleural sac, forcing one to cough
    • red irritated throat
    • inflammation in the upper airways and pleurisy appearing about a year after the dental treatment with amalgams
    • difficulties in swallowing

    Psychological troubles come on such as:

    • severe amnesia
    • constant feelings of tension and strain
    • anxiety
    • irritability
    • difficulty and even impossiblity to control behavior
    • indecision
    • loss of interest in life
    • mental or emotion depression

    Conditions of the brain, including:

    • tiredness nearly all the time
    • a feeling of being "old"
    • resistance to intellectual work
    • reduced capacity for work, both for intellectual and physical tasks
    • reduced powers of comprehension because information does not come through
    • increased need for sleep
    • headache about once a week. The headache often is migrainelike, especially induced by weather changes and by prolonged sleep in the mornings

    Neurological complications can come on like:

    • vertigo (dizziness)
    • facial paralysis, usually on the right side, that is partly permanent
    • damage to balance and hearing
    • a painful pull a the lower jaw toward the collar bone

    Oral discomforts make their appearance such as:

    • increased salivation
    • often-present sour metallic taste
    • bleeding gums at toothbrushing

    Numbers of other symptoms gradually showing up, including:

    • joint pains, especially increasing about a year after receiving the implantation of amalgam fillings
    • pains in the lower back
    • weakness of the muscles with a slowing down of muscular action
    • feelings of pressure, pains, and paresthesis ("pins and needles") in the region of the liver
    • gastrointestinal irritation
    • paresthesis in the region of the lymph nodes under the arms and in the groin
    • exzema or other skin eruptions

    1 Sources: Stock, "Die Defaehrlichket des Quecksilberdampfes"; F. Gasser, "Quecksilberbelastung im Menschlichen Korper durch Amalgam," Med.-Biol. Arbeits und Forschungsgemeinsch (Baden-Baden, Germany: Dtsch. Zahnarzt., 1976): K. D. Jorgensen, "The Mechanism of Marginal Fracture of Amalgam fillings," Acta Odont. Scan. 23 (1965): 347.

    Reply 4 years ago


    Mr. Smart Kid
    Mr. Smart Kid

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    don't belive this shi* he just realy hates CFLs

    plus there is most likey more Hg in drain traps in old hing school chemistry labs

    P.S. old hat makers form the 1800s were the ones that mainly suffered and went crazy


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    It is very true. Why would he hate a bulb that saves him money and the environment? If he doesn't want to risk using it, he doesn't have to. He's just sharing some information curious people may want to know.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    becuase He rather have his life than some left wing ding-dong getting money from this scam... just sayin...


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Ha ha. I agree with you, but I still use them (very carefully).


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    All this has to do with "amalgam" the dental filler as shown in the references, not with CFLs.
    Mercury is no more contained onto fluorescent lamps since 1991.
    So don't worry antmore and go on with CFLs. :-)


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    AMEN ! ! ! !  These things will kill as many people as obamacare ! ! ! ! !


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Cool instructable. I did the CFL thing at my apartment a few years ago, now I leave my lights on even longer than I used to (I have houseplants and don't get much natural light so they appreciate it) and my electric bill was still cut in half. I also think that out of 15 bulbs in my apartment, I've only had a couple burn out in all these years (the ones on my front porch / back patio run 24/7 and are original to when I moved in). I ended up using the double envelope CFLs everywhere except the front porch / back patio, which actually put out less UV light than standard incandescent bulbs. The plain "twist" ones are the ones that put out a lot of UV light.


    9 years ago on Step 2

    Many of the big-box home improvement stores will also take burnt-out bulbs for recycling, for free. If you live near one, call their Customer Service desk and inquire about CFL recycling at the store. If they do accept bulbs, it's usually in the returns area, just inside the store. The store near me will also accept old non-CFL bulbs (circline, straight tube, u-shaped tube), though the box is sized for CFLs. If you have any of the larger bulbs to recycle, call the store ahead of time to make sure they take em'.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    CFLs are a total business scam. They are toxic, guys. Wake up and don't have them in your house. Lighting represents a tiny proportion of most people's energy bills. CFLs are simply not worth the health and environmental risks.

    Prolonged exposure to the light and 'dirty electricity' emitted from CFLs has been linked with skin cancer as well as a host of other health problems. If they break, they release mercury - the most toxic of all metals which can cause permanent physiological and neurological damage if breathed, touched or ingested. Do your own research if any of this is unfamiliar. Businesses do not advertise this stuff.

    Why do the businesses producing CFLs not inform us about these risks? Why are the procedures required in case of breakage not printed on the packaging? (eg opening all the windows and leaving the house for at least 15 minutes to avoid the vapour.)

    My guess is: Money. We have been hoodwinked.

    Get angry, get over it then do something about it. Incandescent and LED bulbs do not produce dirty electricity, although some LEDs may contain arsenic and lead.

    Remove all CFLs and dispose in compliance with your local council regulations for hazardous waste.

    A couple of links for the basics:


    10 years ago on Step 4

    The one second delay is almost non existent on the newer ones


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I know they are supposed to be environmentally sound, but they make buzzing sounds sometimes in lamps, and don't give off very good light.

    Philip J Fry
    Philip J Fry

    11 years ago on Introduction

    I don't believe they last longer than incandescent globes, I've found on average they last half as long, also in australia CFL's can cost upto $7 dollars each, where you used to be able to buy incandescent globes for around $0.30


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    You could have bad electricity. I was an early adopter of CFL's and have had the same set running since I installed them between 6 and 9 years ago. even those horrible orangepink early ones are still going strong


     Don't forget, faulty ballasts burn down houses. The risk is too great for me. I am skipping this step and converting directly to LEDs.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Aye. I use halogen spots , since they deliver a warmer light (and still are more efficient than ordinary incandescent light bulbs). LEDs still have a ways to go before they are thoroughly applicable, mostly because of power density.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    ... the problem isn't about you ingesting the mercury. I think it's in the form of a vapour. The problem is due to the rising no. of CFLs in landfills(which are kinda... rough?) the mercury can seep into the underground water/streams, flow to rivers and drains, even possibly fish farms. So the mercury goes back to us when we eat the fish.. and... yeah. It accumulates in your body. And even a small amount can cause, errr... craziness...