MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: Getting CFLs to last longer

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Shedding some light on those new compact fluorescent bulbs that are supposed to save you money - there are growing complaints that the bulbs aren't lasting as long as they should.

Gene Zgoda bought into the CFL hype a few years ago. He installed the energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs in his kitchen ceiling light and in his bathroom vanity light.

The bulbs, he had heard over and over again, save energy and last many years... except they didn't.

Some of his new expensive bulbs were burning out after less that 2 years.

"They say they are going to last longer and pay for themselves," said Zgoda. "They are pretty expensive. I think I paid $13 for some of them."

It's the dirty little secret of CFLs, that cost between a dollar and $9 each.

They can last up to 15,000 hours, 10 times the lifespan of a standard incandescent bulb, but manufacturers admit the bulbs life is much shorter if it is turned on and off constantly, like a kitchen fixture.

"If we turned this on all the time, it would be great, they'd last a long time. And then we'd waste more electricity! So where's the gain here?"

The Department of Energy now suggests not using CFLs if they are not going to be on at least 15 minutes, as in the bathroom. So what can you use in your bathroom?

Consider newer LED bulbs, which use as little energy as CFLs, but look like normal bulbs.

"LED is probably the way of the future," said Roger Gabel, who works at Home Depot. "The technology is there, the price is coming down significantly."

Home Depot and other home improvement stores have just lowered the price of some LEDs to just $9 each - half the price of most of them, and that price is expected to drop further in the coming months. These will last for years, even in Gene's kitchen or bath.

CFLs are great for spaces like living rooms where you keep them on for several hours. If you use them outside, make sure the fixture is covered. Exposing CFL bulbs to the elements will shorten their lifespan.

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