You've no doubt heard by now that compact flourescent light bulbs (CFLs) make the greener choice when it comes to lighting your home. They do cost a few cents more than standard bulbs, but they require about ¼ of the energy to produce the same amount and quality of light, and they last ten times as long. They also produce 75% less heat, so they're safer to operate (especially in a house with young kids) and can cut energy costs associated with cooling your home.

According to the nonprofit Relight NY, if every American swapped out just one light bulb for an Energy-Star rated CFL bulb, together we would:

  • Save more than $8 billion in energy costs
  • Burn 30 billion fewer pounds of coal
  • Remove 2 million cars worth of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere

Still, you can't just glaze over the issue of disposal…because it is a real concern. If you haven’t already heard…CFL light bulbs use mercury. The average bulb has about 5 milligrams, which is 100 times less than the amount that was in the old glass thermometers. But it’s still mercury…and I don’t usually like to jump on the bandwagon of products that just create another problem in the future. So I was excited to see this new report from the Environmental Working Group that highlights which CFLs currently available contain the least amount of mercury...roughly 1- 2.7 mg.

According to their report:
An Environmental Working Group investigation has identified 7 bulb lines made by Earthmate, Litetronics, Sylvania, Feit, MaxLite and Philips that trump the rest. These bulbs, listed in our Green Lighting Guide contain a fraction of the toxic mercury allowed by Energy Star, reducing the mercury contamination from a broken bulb. All last 8-15,000 hours, dramatically longer than the Energy Star standard of 6,000 hours, and also offer high efficiency.
Lighten up
Find out which CFLs contain the least mercury and which ones last the longest.