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CEC is committed to creating a more resilient and just region in the face of climate change. Through our work with the Central Coast Climate Justice Network and elsewhere, our vision includes an end to racial injustices and their resulting environmental inequities.

This is the second installment in CEC’s three-part series on lighting in your home or office, which accounts for about 30% your electricity consumption. In Part 3 we’ll explore the latest in LED technology. Read Part 1 here…

What are CFLs?
CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs) are an advanced lighting technology that can be used in regular light sockets, but require significantly less energy than traditional technologies such as incandescent bulbs.

Why should I use CFLs?

  • CFLs use two-thirds less energy and last up to 10x longer than incandescent light bulbs.
  • Because they use less energy and last longer, using them will save you money over time, even though they cost a little bit more up-front to purchase.
  • CFLs produce about 70% less heat than incandescent light bulbs, making them safer and reducing cooling costs in your home.
  • Replacing your old light bulbs with CFLs is a convenient way to reduce your energy consumption and thereby reduce your carbon footprint.

Where do I buy CFLs?
Retailers carry a variety of CFLs to fit most lighting fixtures, and with an assortment of shapes and sizes to choose from, there is a CFL available for almost every application. Always purchase a bulb with an Energy Star Rating.

What wattage CFL do I buy?
Use this guide to determine the wattage you need:

    Standard bulb
Equivalent CFL bulb
60w 15w
75w 20w
100w 26w-29w
150w 38w-42w
250w-300w 55w


What about light quality?
Today’s CFLs provide high quality, flicker-free light. Full spectrum CFLs are designed to duplicate outdoor daylight characteristics and improve color perception, which allows for true and vibrant color presentation. Look for CFLs that say “full spectrum” for a light quality that you’ll find most familiar.

Should I be concerned about mercury?
CFLs contain an extremely small amount of mercury in a sealed tube about the size of the tip of a ball-point pen. In the U.S., the main source of toxic mercury emissions are coal-fired power plants. Even in areas such as Santa Barbara County where coal does not contribute significantly to power generation, CFLs result in decreased emission of several other harmful substances.

How do I dispose of my CFLs?

  • Because CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury, you’ll need to take an extra step to properly dispose of them.
  • If your CFL fails within the warranty period, return it to the manufacturer.
  • If your CFL breaks, sweep (don’t vacuum) the debris and wipe the area with a damp paper towel. Place the debris and paper towel in a plastic bag and take it to the appropriate hazardous waste collection center.
  • Find local disposal options for your used CFLs. If you live on the South Coast your closest location is the Community Hazardous Waste Collection Center:

Community Hazardous Waste Collection Center
On the UCSB Campus next to the Facilities Management yard.
Saturdays 9am–3pm and Sundays 11am–3pm
Questions? Call the County of Santa Barbara at (805) 882-3602

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