FAct: they only contain a very small amount
CFLs contain just a few milligrams of For more information on clean up
mercury, about the size of the tip of a
and disposal of cFLs see the Ministry
ball-point pen. A typical body temperature
thermometer contains around 0.5 grams1 for the Environment’s website at
of mercury – that’s over 100 times more www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/waste
than a CFL!
FAct: cFLs are a more environmentally-
friendly option than old-style light bulbs
Despite the presence of mercury, energy
saving lamps are still the environmentally
Light bulbs that use
Mercury vapour from the burning of fossil less energy: a covered
fuels is the largest source of environmental cFL (LEFt) and a new
and human mercury contamination. generation halogen
Widespread use of CFLs reduces energy incandescent (RIGHt).
Both are efficient.
consumption, and can therefore reduce
mercury released into the atmosphere.
FAct: they’re low-risk, even if broken
Although mercury is a toxin, the small
amount in a single CFL should not put you
at risk, even if it’s broken – just follow the
Ministry for the Environment’s guidelines
on their website for safe clean-up.
FAct: there are ways to dispose of them safely
The Ministry for the Environment is working
with the lighting industry to develop further
initiatives around safe disposal or recycling.
Ask your local electrical contractor or
lighting supplier if they provide a drop-off
service for CFLs. Alternatively, ask your
local council if they operate a drop-off
service, such as an annual hazardous waste
collection. Not all areas will have a service.
A final option is to wrap it in newspaper
and dispose with your household rubbish. September 2008
US Environmental Protection Agency
FAct: Old-style light bulbs are really inefficient find the right light compact fluorescent
Only 5% of the energy used in a traditional
incandescent light bulb makes light – the other lamps (cfls)
compact Fluorescent Lamps
95% just makes heat. They’re the most well-known type of efficient light
Use up to 80% less electricity than old-style bulbs and
bulb – so here are the facts.
can last 8-10 times as long. Some new ones can be
FAct: Old-style light bulbs will be replaced by
used with dimmers. FAct: cFLs are not all spiral-shaped – there’s
more efficient bulbs
The least efficient light bulbs will begin to be phased a huge range of choice
off the market from November 2009 as new, more CFLs come in many different shapes, including
efficient technologies become available. candles and more traditional shaped bulbs,
which can be used in a wide range of fittings.
This means that common pear-shaped old-style
Some of the newer ones can even be used in
incandescent light bulbs under 150W will likely
dimmers and down lights.
disappear from November 2009. Other types of
incandescent light bulb are unlikely to be affected
until late 2010, and nothing will be phased out
FAct: cFLs have a range of colour options
until there are good alternatives available. There’s a range of colours, including warm
white (the same as standard light bulb colour)
With the new range of efficient light bulb choices and cool white (cooler colour, good for above
coming onto the market you may not even notice New generation halogen incandescent bulbs work benches).
the difference – except to your power bills!
Use around 30%
less electricity FAct: Some discolouration or smells are normal
FAct: You don’t have to use cFLs
than old-style at the end of a cFL’s life
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are the most
bulbs and last Unlike incandescent bulbs, CFLs contain
well-known and most efficient light bulb choice
twice as long. complex electronic circuitry so sometimes
right now – but they’re not the only option.
Can be used they behave quite differently when they reach
with dimmers. the end of their lives.
FAct: New generation halogen incandescents
are now available These things are normal and are not
considered a fire or safety hazard:
These new incandescent light bulbs – which look
like old-style incandescents and don’t contain • A distinctive odour or a small amount of
mercury – use around 30% less electricity, last Old style incandescent bulbs smoke coming from the base of the bulb.
twice as long and can be used with dimmers.
Very inefficient. • Discolouration (browning) or slight charring
They’re already stocked in some shops and
Only 5% of the (blackening) of the base of the bulb.
should be widely available by November 2009.
energy they use
• The plastic of the base deforming or
FAct: Efficient light bulbs may cost a little more opening slightly.
to buy, but they’re cheaper to run The bases of CFLs are made from fire retardant
For example, replacing your four most-used plastic which is designed to cope with these things.
bulbs with CFLs can save around $50 per year
If any of these things happen it’s time to replace
in energy costs.
the bulb – switch the light off, let it cool down,
You can often buy energy efficient light bulbs and remove it. If your bulb is losing brightness
for less due to Electricity Commission subsidies or starting to flicker it’s also time to replace it.
– visit www.energywise.govt.nz to find out For more information visit:
what’s available now. www.energywise.govt.nz