Fluorescents, which create light by heating gases inside a glass tube, were developed in the early 20th century and sold publicly by the 1940s. They are generally considered to use more than 50 percent less energy and last several times longer than incandescent bulbs.
However, the mercury vapor inside fluorescents can damage the environment if the bulbs are broken, leading some states to require businesses that use large quantities of fluorescent lights to recycle them.
Australia will ban incandescent light bulbs by 2010, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tons by 2012.
Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government would phase in more efficient and expensive alternatives such as the compact fluorescent bulb by 2010.
The Benefits of Compact Fluorescent Lighting
CFLs have several advantages over incandescent light bulbs: they last from 8-10 times longer, use about 75% less energy, and produce 90% less heat while delivering more light per Watt. For example, a 25 Watt CFL provides about 1800 lumens, compared to 1750 lumens from a 100 Watt incandescent lamp.
CFLs have come a long way since their introduction. They provide a flicker-free, soft-white light and come in a variety of styles. The traditional "twist" bulb is the most popular, but if you need a more stylish version, consider the household style. This bulb is similar in design to a standard incandescent bulb but uses significantly less energy. The 3-way CFL is perfect for reading lamps or conversation areas where ambience is a factor. The globe style is designed for bathroom fixtures.
Here's a groovy advantage - CFLs save you money! One 20 Watt CFL (replaces a 75 Watt incandescent bulb) will save you $66 dollars over the life of the bulb (based on $.12 KWH). Replace one 100 Watt incandescent bulb with a 25 Watt CFL and save a whopping $74 dollars over the life of the bulb (hey - that's 21 extra Mocha Latte's).
Not only are CFLs the smart choice - they're hip too. The EPA reports that CFLs are the environmentally responsible choice. Replacing one incandescent light bulb with an energy saving CFL bulb reduced carbon monoxide emission to the atmosphere by 1,000 pounds.
According to the Department of Energy, as a nation we spend about one-quarter of our electricity budget on lighting, or more than $37 billion annually. And while traditional incandescent light bulbs are less expensive to purchase, they are much more expensive to operate. Incandescents aren't such a bright idea after all (sorry - couldn't resist).