CFL bulbThe phase-out of incandescent bulbs in the European Union begins next month, so it’s time to get prepared for a new round of ridiculous excuses about why folks can’t use more efficient lights. Despite having been dealt with repeatedly, these seem to be dug up anytime lights make the news. Luckily, they seem to get more ludicrous and bizarre every time. Who knows what the advocates of wasting energy will come up with next? Here are some of my favorites.

Those squiggly lights have mercury! I’m not putting that in my house!

An oldie, but a goodie. And like many of these, based on some truth – compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) do indeed have some mercury. Most bulbs have around 4 milligrams, but low mercury models can have as little as 1 milligram. For comparison, an old mercury thermometer had 500 milligrams of mercury. Remember where people used to stick those? The folks trying to scare you away from CFLs aren’t really worried about your mercury exposure.

In reality, you should avoid breaking fluorescent lights over your head like a pro wrestler. If you do accidently break one, leave the room and open a window to ventilate the area. Come back in 15 minutes or so and clean it up. And make sure you recycle! There are plenty of recycling points for CFLs and the number is growing. Use them.

Just remember that more mercury is emitted by the energy wasted from a pear shaped incandescent than is in a CFL. Doomsday projections about everyone simultaneously smashing every CFL in the world are a waste of time.

I’ll change them when they burn out.

Don’t. You are wasting money every day. You are wasting energy every day. Change them now.

They flicker all the time and it annoys me!

Oh really? Well you must be superman (or woman) because modern fluorescents flicker at a speed that is impossible for us mere mortals to detect. Can I have your autograph?

CFLs flicker at 20,000 cycles per second. The most sensitive among us can detect 60 cycles per second. Big difference.

I would suggest ending the conversation if protests are made, because arguing with someone whose basic premise is their own inherent superiority is unlikely to get you anywhere.

They give me a rash! (or a headache or other medical problem)

How very unfortunate for you. Perhaps you should not buy CFLs. But why do you have to use a space heater to light your house? Why not Halogens, HIRs, LEDs, or even the coming super efficient incandescents?

There are a tremendous amount of choices when it comes to lamps, not just CFLs and incandescents. Traditional bulbs are so bad that almost anything is better. Remember, they literally are little space heaters that also happen to put out a tiny bit of light.

Why would those with a medical condition align themselves with the advocates of inefficiency, new coal power plants, and billions of dollars of waste? Come join the good guys.

I don’t like the light those bulbs put out.

Even if you don’t get a rash, you don’t have to buy CFLs! There are lots of more efficient options. And, now they make CFLs in a variety of color temperatures. Most folks won’t even be able to tell the difference in a room if all the lights are changed at once.

They don’t work with my dimmers!

The average CFL will not work with a dimmer switch, but they do make CFLs that work with dimmers. And again, it’s not an either-or decision! You have other options that are dimmable and more efficient.

They are cheap and they burn out!

Anything can be made poorly. One bad CFL does not mean all CFLs are bad. Look for Energy Star labeled models that have met quality standards requiring a 2 year warranty.

The heat old bulbs put off will help me save on heating in the winter.

That heat is not going where you will feel it, so you will still reach for the thermostat. And you can add the cost of running the AC to get the waste heat out of the house in the summer.  You will pay much more.

Why not use a heater that was designed for heating and a light that was designed for lighting instead of a terrible lamp that stinks at both?

I just like incandescent lights much better.

Do you also enjoy kicking puppies and punching baby ducks in the face? How about children’s asthma, coal slurries, and destroying mountains in Appalachia? Electricity price increases? Nuclear waste?

Your choices affect more than just your monthly power bill. Is using ancient light bulb technology really that important to you?