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What to Know About Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs 

Shedding light on CFLs.

By Jennifer Uscher
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs Bob Hiemstra
  • Do CFLs and incandescents use the same wattage? No. CFLs use less energy to cast the same amount of light. (A 13- to 15-watt CFL, for instance, is equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent.)
  • Can CFLs be used with dimmers? Yes, but only those labeled “Dimmable.” Otherwise, you’ll shorten the bulb’s life considerably.
  • Should CFLs be recycled? Yes. Because CFLs contain mercury, they shouldn’t be thrown in the trash. You can recycle them through Ikea and Home Depot, or check at your local recycling center. 
  • What happens if a CFL breaks? Because CFLs contain small amounts of mercury, you need to be meticulous if one shatters. Ventilate the room for 15 minutes. Wearing rubber gloves, scoop up the debris with cardboard and use duct tape to secure any fragments. Place the pieces in a zippered plastic bag and toss in the trash.  


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