Environmental Working Group Study Shines Light on Best and Worst CFLs

compact fluorescent light bulb photo

Image credit: Paul Keller / Flickr.com

Want to make the switch to energy efficient, long-lasting Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) but don't know which brand is best for you and the environment? The Environmental Working Group has the answers you're looking for.

The EWG just released a study listing the top earth-friendly CFLs on the market. Lighten Up in '09 features the top brands (and where to buy them), what to do when a bulb breaks (CFLs contain mercury), and annual savings on energy and utility expenses. Seven bulbs with the lowest mercury content and the best longevity—lasting 8,000 to 15,000 hours (the EnergyStar standard is 6,000 hours)—got top honors in the study. The cream of the crop?Earthmate's Mini-size bulbs—13, 15, 20 and 25 Watt
Litetronic's Neolite—10, 15, 20, 23 Watt
Sylvania Micro-Mini—13, 20 and 23 Watt
Sylvania DURA-ONE—reflector bulbs
Feit EcoBulb
Philips with Alto lamp technology

But not all CFLs made by these companies are eco-friendly. Some models received a failing grade, highlighting the fact that it's important to pay attention to which product you're purchasing.

An alarming 167 brands received a failing grade in terms of meeting EnergyStar's updated guidelines set in 2008—and they're being sold with the EnergyStar stamp until July 2009. The reason? The Department of Energy has given companies six months to sell off an excess inventory of 100 million CFLs, a backup attributed to the economic slowdown, says the study.

The take-away message: Buyer beware—take the time to make sure the pack of CFLs in your cart is one of the top eco-friendly brands.

New EnergyStar Guidelines
Average Life Span
More than 6,000 hours

Maximum Mercury Content
Less that 5 milligrams per lamp for CFLs under 25 watts
Less than 6 milligrams per lamp for CFLs between 25 and 40 watts

energy star cfl light output equival chart image

Courtesy of EnergyStar
More on CFLs:
Ask TreeHugger: Is Mercury from a Broken CFL Dangerous?
Eva: Wood, CFLs-Only Lamp from Argentina
BBC on Safe Disposal of CFLs
CFLs Could Curb Global Lighting Demand by 40% - and At What Cost?

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