Design Room

Replace Incandescent Light Bulbs with Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) or LEDs


Compact Fluorescents (CFLs)

One of the easiest and cheapest things you can do to go green in your home and lower your carbon footprint is make the switch to CFLs! They use up to 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and last ten times longer.By replacing them--even before the old ones burn out--you’ll reduce the amount of greenhouse-gas causing CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, and save about $30 off your utility bill over the life of each bulb. And these days, CFLs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so they’re perfect for almost any light fixture in your home.

Some consumers have raised concerns about the fact that CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury within their glass tubing, which helps them use less energy. According to the EPA, the average amount of mercury in each CFL bulb is about 4 milligrams, an amount that would cover the tip of a ball-point pen. By way of comparison, most older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury. It would take approximately 125 CFLs to match that amount. Furthermore, regular incandescents emit more mercury (and other toxic chemicals like sulphur and nitrogen oxide) into the atmosphere than CFLs because they burn larger amounts of energy and fossil fuels over their short life span. Given the small amount of mercury each CFL light bulb contains, they pose little danger to the average consumer.

When in use or left intact, CFLs do not release mercury. The only potential risk of mercury exposure from CFLs occurs at the time of their disposal. Unlike incandescents, CFLs have the distinct advantage of being designed in a way that their mercury can be collected, recycled and used again at the end of their average 7-12 year life cycle. At that time, it’s best to recycle them properly by wrapping them carefully and dropping them off for safe disposal at a CFL collection site like IKEA or Home Depot, which also recycles batteries and other toxic household products.

Light emitting Diodes(LEDs)

Light-emitting diode, or LED, lights are also becoming widely available for uses around the home. A mercury-free LED light lasts about 50 times longer than an incandescent bulb. You can now find LED reading lamps and Christmas lights which use 90 percent less energy than incandescents.

For more tips on sustainable living, visit and sign up for our free monthly newsletter. For more information on safe disposal of CFLs, contact your local municipal solid waste agency, or visit or to identify your community’s recycling options.

Remember, reducing your personal carbon footprint by just 2% each year can help minimize global warming by the year 2050.

If overhauling your entire life to “go green” still feels a little overwhelming, be willing to ask yourself powerful questions and take the time to find out what level of “green” on the continuum works best for your lifestyle, then commit to making a conscious change for the better.

Incorporating just one of these tips on an ongoing basis can actually make a world of difference, so experiment and have fun making your conscious lifestyle work for you!

For more fun tips on Conscious Living, or to share a few of your own tips, please visit Conscious Living TV and sign up for our free newsletter at