Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are a popular light bulb. CFLs use about a quarter of the energy of a regular incandescent bulb. A 13-watt (W) CFL produces the same high quality light as a typical 60-W incandescent bulb and saves 47 W per hour of use. Fluorescent lights have been around for a long time, and CFLs are a simple variation on the traditional fluorescent tube. CFL technology has improved over the years.CFLs are quick to turn on, they contain little mercury, and they do not flicker. The following are five facts about CFL lights:

CFLs require careful handling and disposal.

CFLs contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing – an amount equivalent to the tip of a ballpoint pen. There is no risk to your health when the light bulb remains unbroken. Covered or shatterproof CFLs, which are more resistant to breakage, are also available.

CFLs are cost-effective

Lighting accounts for up to 11 percent of a home’s electricity use, so replacing incandescent bulbs with new, efficient CFLs can make a big difference. If you consider the cost of energy and the cost of replacement, CFLs are the cheapest source of lighting on the market today, even with a higher initial cost than that of incandescent bulbs.

Ultraviolet (UV) emissions from CFLs are not a likely health risk.

As with traditional incandescent bulbs, CFLs emit UV radiation. Most scientific evidence to date shows that UV radiation levels from fluorescent light sources are not a safety concern for most of the population. It is recommended that you stay at least 30 centimeters (about 1 foot) away from an uncovered CFL and limit close exposure to three consecutive hours.

The effects of CFLs on home heating costs are small

While incandescent bulbs give off heat, CFLs give off very little. The effect on heating costs varies across Canada, depending on the climate, type of home heating fuel, heating system efficiency and other factors. The energy savings from using CFLs usually offset any additional heating cost. In the summer months, inefficient incandescent bulbs force your cooling system to use more energy, which increases electricity costs. Most homeowners and tenants will save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by switching to energy-efficient lighting.

CFLs are not just spirals

They are now available in various shapes, colors and specialties. You can find covered, reflector and chandelier CFLs wherever you buy light bulbs. For specific applications, dimmable and tri-light CFLs are also available.