You must have been hiding in a cave for the last few years, if you haven't heard that Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) (we call them squiggly bulbs) are more energy efficient than standard incandescent bulbs.
But before you go out and buy a bazillion CFLs and then flood the landfill with your old incandescents (and possibly spend loads of money in the process) listen up.
Rather than going in to the detailed mechanics of how each bulb works,(one heats up a filament & one uses electricity to excite gas) I will give you the punch line.
Incandescents: 10% of the power used actually creates light
CFL: 70% of the power used actually creates light
See the difference?
Now, I still don't want you to rush out and buy all new CFLs. CFLs can cost you much more than incandescent. And even though incandescent bulbs will be phased out in the United States in 2014, I want you to buy and use them strategically.
6 Easy Ways To Reduce Your Lighting Bill
1. Turn off lights when not in the room, and use less lighting in general (but safety comes first!).
2. Any light that is used for more than 2 hours a day should have a CFL.
3. Install motion sensors to outdoor lights, rather than leaving them on all night.
4. Use night lights. Safely walk from the bedroom to the bathroom without needing to turn on any light.
5. Find out if your local utility company swaps old CFLs for new ones for free. (Mine does.)
6. When replacing an incandescent with a CFL, divide the wattage by 4 to determine the wattage, or just match the lumens (should be on the package).
Now, the drawback with CFLs is that they contain mercury (not good for humans). So you MUST recycle them properly. And follow careful procedures when one breaks.
Take them to IKEA, The Home Depot, your local utility company (call first) or find a local recycler at Earth911. If you cannot find someone to recycle the CFLs, you can also just hang on to them until your area gets up to speed.
There is currently a bill on the Washington State governor's desk waiting to be signed that will improve recycling of CFL bulbs even more.
Perhaps your state is next?