Lindy’s Blog: Where Mom is Always Right

September 1, 2009

Have I mentioned I hate CFLs?

Filed under: environment,This and that... — by lindyborer @ 7:17 am

cflstandardThose of you who know me on a close personal level know my revulsion to the latest way the environmentalists are reaching their ever-growing tentacles into our homes and our lives:  the Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb. 

 You know what I’m talking about:  The ugly-as-sin coiling lightbulbs that cast a cool (and unflattering) pallor over everyone and everything in a room.  I was reminded again of my discontent as I read Ann Althouse’s blog  post this morning over my coffee.  She, too, is stockpiling incandescent light bulbs, a habit I picked up awhile back when I realized that they’re slowly being phased out.  She expresses the loss so well that I’m copying it here:

Last week, I walked through a beautiful Art Deco building lobby and hallway, where there were gorgeous bronze light fixtures that no longer glowed: The incandescent light bulbs had been replaced by fluorescents. The whole look of the interior was destroyed. I felt like crying. All of our rooms and lobbies and hallways are about to have the life sucked out of them, by a Congress that has no feeling for beauty and the effect of light on human emotions.

Yeah, it’s a damn shame.  One blogger describes the people pushing these this way:  “These are the same people that think that tofu is a good substitute for steak.”  He nailed it, there.

One of the first changes we made after moving into this house was to replace the fluorescent lighting in the bathroom and kitchen.  It was one of the best decisions we made.  I felt like I was walking into an igloo each morning as I went to make coffee, and women know the horrifying effects of fluorescent lighting on their complexions.  Retail stores, in particular, should be worried for their clothing sales once all the lighting in the dressing room areas are lit by CFLs.  Trying on bathing suits is hard enough without having fluorescent lighting highlight every flaw.  

Before someone suggests that we try out some CFLs, I’d like to point out that we just did.  And they’re already gone.  Supposedly, they last double the time incandescents do.  Not in our experience.  We bought some for a new ceiling fan; they began this annoying flickering the second night, and one burned out on the third.  They were replaced soon after.  They take about two minutes to warm up, and most importantly, THEY ARE FLOURESCENT.   

One more gripe about these monstrosities:  They contain low levels of mercury, which–if not properly recycled–leach into the air and ground at the landfill.  They require special disposal, which most states have not allowed for.  If you happen to break one in your home, you find youself wondering if you just nuked your fetus as you cleaned it up.  NPR even has addressed this issue.  Given the justified worry over mercury in common vaccinations given to children and pregnant women via the flu shot, one wonders whether these concerns have placed certain sectors of the liberal, anti-vaccination, pro-environment crowd in somewhat of a pickle.  

Count this as one more little way that the government–via the well-meaning environmentalist crowd–are hindering private innovation and encroaching on our day-to-day existence.  One wonders if they didn’t read the bill and didn’t realize that they outlawed incandescent lighting.  (Now, since when does Congress just not read bills?!?)

Sidenote:  Read the comments at the Althouse link.  Very interesting and humorous:  “Dim bulbs Macht Frei!”



  1. In, I think it’s Germany, flourescent lights are banned in public schools because they have been found to contribute to ADHD. Other people, particularly those on the Autism Spectrum like my own son, find these lights more than a little distracting and annoying. Tell this to my MIL who changed all my lightbulbs to these coiled monstrosities when I was out one evening. She’s like my own little version of Congress.

    Comment by Erin — September 1, 2009 @ 10:22 am |Reply

  2. Improper disposal of compact fluorescent light bulbs is very dangerous to your family and to the environment. In some states, it is illegal to put these light bulbs in your trash.

    It’s easy to dispose of compact fluorescent light bulbs properly. Just send them to your Senator or Congressman in Washington. Or send them to the EPA.

    You can find your Senator’s mailing address here:

    You can find your Congressman’s mailing address here:

    Or send your used light bulbs to EPA headquarters in Washington:
    Environmental Protection Agency
    Ariel Rios Building
    1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20460

    Isn’t your family’s health worth the small postage cost? Don’t you want to help save the planet from this environmental nightmare? You’ll sleep better at night knowing your deadly mercury-containing light bulbs are with the experts in our nation’s capital. Send your light bulbs to Washington!

    For more information, check out our web site at

    Comment by dju316 — September 1, 2009 @ 7:01 pm |Reply

  3. I am concerned because it sounds like you’re missing some important facts.

    The color of the light has nothing to do with the technology, it has to do with the color temperature of the bulb. Incandescent bulbs are available in cool white, soft white, bright white, daylight, etc. color temperatures, and so are CFLs. A little bit of research reveals that most light bulb packages (including for CFLs) state this information. In fact, researchers at the Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute in NY conducted a study which revealed that when incandescent bulbs and CFLs of the same color temperatures were placed side by side, consumers were unable to distinguish between the two. So what you’re describing is an issue of color temperature, not of incandescents vs. CFLs.

    And if you don’t like the spiral shape, CFLs are also available in other shapes including the a-lamp (standard incandescent light bulb) shape.

    Regarding the mercury issue, CFLs typically contain 0.3–0.5 mg of mercury per light bulb. Mercury thermometers, for example, typically contain about 500 miligrams of mercury.

    Many useful household items contain hazardous materials (such as batteries, thermostats, home electronics, paint, and so on). All of these items have to be disposed of properly, just like CFLs. Most communities have hazardous waste drop-off sites and/or pick-up days throughout the year. Just as many stores take back your used batteries or leftover paint, several retail stores also take CFLs back for proper disposal (such as The Home Depot, Aubuchon Hardware, IKEA, and others).


    Comment by ...really? — September 14, 2009 @ 4:53 pm |Reply

  4. Jennifer:

    I’m well aware that color temperature is what produces the types of light. The problem for me is that in my small, rural corner of the world, there’s only one type available, and that’s the ugly, coiled, ineffective, pasty white-light producing CFL that doesn’t work with our light fixtures and our house’s old wiring. But that’s all that’s available to us.

    I’m also aware that CFLs don’t work with a lot of light fixtures, such as ceiling fans or anything on a dimmer. Thus, many people will find themselves having to shell out cash for an electrician to come jigger with their lighting. (Is the govt. going to dole out yet more aid for this?)

    As to the mercury content, I don’t know many people who still use mercury thermometers in this day and age, and I don’t know of many stores that sell them. And a fragile light bulb that is handled frequently is far more likely to break and leach that mercury in one’s home than the other items you mentioned.

    But, all this aside, I think you’re missing the entire point: The premise of the government telling us what kind of lightbulbs we must use is absolutely ridiculous and unconstitutional. The Green Movement is doing its best to take this country back to the late 19th century, it seems. John Holdren, Obama’s science “czar”, has stated his belief that we should be “de-developed.”

    Thus, we have the CFL, the first of many intrusions into our private lives.

    Comment by lindyborer — September 16, 2009 @ 7:06 am |Reply

  5. It’s not necessarily the “color temperature.” It has to do with the spectrum. I found this (along with your blog post) in my exhaustive research (read: googled the heck out of topics relating to the downside of CFLs).

    According to that, if true, no amount of modifications will make CFLs acceptable in relation to incandescents. This smack of planned obsolescence if you ask me.

    (From a political standpoint, Lindy, I could not agree with your stance more fervently.)

    Some more interesting reading:

    Comment by Dean D — December 8, 2009 @ 2:47 pm |Reply

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