Don't Waste Your Money: Consumers complain about CFL light bulbs - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Don't Waste Your Money: Consumers complain about CFL light bulbs

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(Toledo News Now) -

Do you have any CFL light bulbs in your house? More consumers are getting frustrated about these "light bulbs of the future," but not just because of their looks; there's a dirty, little secret behind these bulbs.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, were supposed to save us money. But a growing number of people are complaining that those energy savings are offset by the high cost of the bulbs, and the reality that they can fail long before they are supposed to fail.

Bought Into The Hype

Gene Zgoda, like many of us, bought into the CFL hype a few years ago. He installed the energy-saving bulbs in his kitchen ceiling light and bathroom vanity light.

The bulbs, he had heard over and over again, save energy and last many years. Except they didn't.

Zgoda says he couldn't believe it: Some of his new expensive bulbs were burning out after less that two years.

"They say they are going to last longer than old bulbs, and pay for themselves. They are pretty expensive. I think I paid $13 for some of them," said Zgoda.

Dirty Little Secret

It's the secret of CFLs that each cost between $1 and $9 these days. They can last up to 15,000 hours, 10 times the lifespan of a standard incandescent bulb. But manufacturers admit the bulb's life is much shorter if it is turned on and off constantly, as in a kitchen.

"If we left this on all the time," Zgoda said, "it would be great. They'd last a long time, and then we'd waste more electricity! So where's the gain here?"

The U.S. Department of Energy now suggests not using CFLs if the bulbs are not going to be on at least 15 minutes, as in the bathroom.

Newer Alternatives

So what can you do? Consider newer LED bulbs, which use as little energy as CFLs, but look like normal bulbs.

Roger Gabel, of Home Depot, said, "LED is probably the way of the future. The technology is there. The price is coming down significantly."

Home Depot has just lowered the price of its Cree line of LEDs to just $9 each, which is half the price of what they were selling for six months ago.

These will last for years, even in Zgoda's kitchen or bathroom.

Bottom Line

CFLs are great for living rooms and outdoor areas where you keep them on for several hours.

But for a bathroom, consider LEDs or the old fashioned incandescent bulbs so you don't waste your money.

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