Compact Fluorescent Lights Do Save Money
If you haven't made the switch yet to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) because of the cost of the bulbs, here is a link to an article that clearly explains how quickly you'll recoup your investment. Since the article is two years old prices have significantly decreased and you can buy sets of them at discount stores like Costco, Lowes and Home Depot. Two years ago as my incandescent bulbs burned out, I replaced them with CFLs and I can honestly say I haven't had to replace a single one. Over time you will save money as you will consume less energy. For example, a 150 watt bulb replaced by a CFL only uses 32 watts, a significant reduction.
In addition, you'll lesson your carbon footprint since the average coal or oil fired power plant emits approximamtely 1kg CO2 for every killowatt. By reducing your killowatt usage, emissions over time will go down as well, which is a good thing.
Sherwood, I did some research based upon your comment and it looks like there are some problems with some of the bulbs due to manufacturers cutting quality to reduce the price. It appears I've been fortnuate in that not one of my bulbs has yet to die. Another factor is they don't seem to fare well in sockets, i.e. closets, where they aren't on for at least 15 minutes. Thanks for the heads up.
I have had consistent problems with CFLs burning out very quickly. Most of them, as well, can't do variable wattage. It seems like they aren't ready for prime time.
BusyMom, that sounds like a great interactive museum, one of the best ways to learn.
Great article, John. We were recently at a science museum that demonstrated this very topic really effectively. They had 2 bulbs on dsiplay, one regular 150 watt bulb and the other a CFL. You had to turn a crank to get each bulb to light up - and by far the regular bulb took about 5 times more energy to light than the other one. It was a really great way to demonstrate the concept of the energy it takes to light just one bulb. The kids now have a much better understanding of what I mean when I tell them to turn off the lights to save energy.