The hype sounded good.
• SAVE MONEY ON POWER BILLS!!!!
• (You might pay more for each bulb, but) THEY WILL LAST YEARS LONGER!!!!
• (They produce 75% less heat, so they are) SAFER TO OPERATE!!!!
• HELP THE ENVIRONMENT!!!!
Yeah. Compact fluorescent bulbs (or “curly bulbs” as we–not so fondly–call them) sound good. Maybe for most people they live up to those claims. After a few years of using them, I am not convinced.
I have no way to measure whether or not they’ve lowered our power bills. We’re paying more than ever, but that could be because power costs have gone up generally. I’ll give them a pass on that for lack of personal evidence.
Last years longer? Uh, NO. We’ve had to replace them as often as we had to replace our incandescent bulbs. Since they cost so much more, they are definitely not saving us money that way.
Safer to operate because of less heat output? They’re still hot enough to burn fingers or anything else that touches them. Who researched this stuff?
Helping the environment? Whose environment? If they’re talking general earth environment, I’m not sure how they decided that. I cannot help but think that as these mercury-laden lamps go into landfills (you know not everybody will or can recycle them) or are broken by clumsy people like me, there are going to be increasing and long-term problems.
Now, at the risk of sounding self-centered, let’s talk about my personal environment.
1. They are not helping it in any way I can see. So far I haven’t broken one, but I know it’s just a matter of time.
2. Besides having to replace them as often as we replaced the incandescents (no savings there!), we have had a real problem with the stench the cfls create. Did we just have defective bulbs? I don’t know. We have two cfls over our kitchen range that don’t create a smell. Also the two in our den lamps seem okay, but when we replaced the incandescent bulbs in our office, stench is the only word to describe what we got. We couldn’t use the room until we took them out. We bought a different brand and tried again. The smell is still obvious, but not nearly as bad. We can live with it, but we don’t like it. And I have to wonder whether the smell of singed plastic–or whatever–is totally harmless. I would guess not. For all the faults “environmentalists” ascribe to incandescents, at least those bulbs didn’t stink.
3. Then we have the two hissing bulbs in our bathroom, both fairly new. Sometimes they work fine, but often when we hit the switch one or the other of them hisses and stutters (hssssssssssss bright, dim, bright, dim, hsssssssssssssssssss, etc.) We’ve tried tightening the bulbs. Didn’t help. I have no idea why they do it, but it is irritating and unsettling when your light bulbs sound like an upset copperhead. Are those bulbs about to die, even thought they’re almost new? Are they about to burst into flame? Is it safe to use them?
Is it too much to ask for a consistent product? Can’t all the cfls work silently and scentlessly and do all the things their pushers have promised they will do? Oh, I almost forgot. This is the real world. It won’t happen.
Anybody have a solution to the smell and sound of cfls or the name of a brand that hasn’t given you problems? If so, I would love to hear from you.