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For a Little More Now, Save a Lot Later With CFLs

Power Lines

March 31, 2001|LYNN O'DELL

California's energy crisis is hitting home. Electricity bills are rising, and people are looking for ways to cut consumption and costs. This is the 12th in a series of energy-saving tips. Previous stories can be found at http://www.latimes.com/powerlines.

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Girding for rate hikes? Run out and stock up on lights. No, not the bargain, $1.44 four-pack of 60-watt bulbs. You want the ones that are $10 a pop.

They are compact fluorescent lights, and although they do cost more to buy, they cost less to operate--75% less than incandescent bulbs. And they last up to 10 times longer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Replace one 60-watt incandescent with an equivalent 15-watt compact fluorescent (CFL), and if it's on four hours daily, you'll save more than $11 a year in electricity (at an estimated 17 cents a kilowatt). That's $56 over the five-year life of the bulb, according to Philips Lighting, which manufactures the Marathon CFL.

Multiply that by 10--the number of critical lights in the average house--and you can see why scientist Alan Meier of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recommends buying enough CFLs to equal one month's electric bill.

"You'll see significant savings," he said.

If you replace 25% of your lights in high-use areas with fluorescents, you can cut your lighting bill in half, the federal government says.

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That annoying hum and flicker? Gone from modern fluorescents, which now come in spirals, circles and subcompact capsules about the same size as an incandescent bulb.

On the downside, CFLs may be too tall for some lamps and their bases too wide for some recessed fixtures.

And getting a pleasing light tone can take a little work. Look for bulbs marked with a color rendering index, or CRI, of at least 80 and a color temperature measured in kelvins. Warm-colored lights are below 3,100 K; cool-colored lights are more than 4,000 K. A good explanation can be found at http://www.lightsite.net. Go to FAQs.

Shop at home improvement stores, light bulb specialty shops or online at Web sites such as

http://www.energyguide.com.

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Send your questions or suggestions regarding energy use to Home Design, Los Angeles Times, Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, or send e-mail to ocsocalliv@latimes.com. Please include your name and phone number.

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