Those odd-looking squiggly light bulbs can help you save energy and money on your electric bill. In fact, if every American home replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY START qualified CFL, it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, save more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.
That said, the reason CFL bulbs use up to 75% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than regular bulbs, is because they contain a very small amount of mercury. But, before you worry too much, consider these two points. First, the phrase “very small” is important. In fact, the average amount of mercury is between 3.5 and 15 milligrams. Compare that to older fever thermometers, which contain about 500 milligrams, and you see it’s a relatively small amount. Second, no mercury is released as long as the bulbs remain intact. Exposure is only possible when one has been broken.
Still, you’ll want to make sure you don’t just throw the bulbs away, where they can break and release a tiny amount of mercury. To locate a hazardous waste collection and recycling center in your area visit, Earth911.org. APS.com also has recycling information on its website.