About a year ago I tried one of the compact flourescent bulbs in my fan's light fixture. I've only replace the "regular" type bulbs about every 2 years in this fixture, so when the package said these CF bulbs would last up to 5 years I was even happier! The price was about 4x the cost of a name brand incandescent bulb, but I figured the longer life would make up for that.
Fast forward to two nights ago. I had noticed my light had been getting dim the last month-I was having to turn on extra lights if I wanted to draw (defeating the purpose of a more efficent bulb). Two nights ago I started seeing light flickering out of the corner of my eye. Thinking it was the cat's shadow from jumping down, I ignored it. A few minutes later the light started turning itself off and on! It looked like someone was playing with a dimmer switch. After a minute of this the dog started barking at the lights-she hardly ever barks so that was creepy. I got her quiet and sat and watched the bulb die a slow death. It took about 5 minutes to die, turning off and on, dimming and undimming, putting on a light show. Much different from a normal bulb that goes POP and is done (and then you get to shake it to make sure it's realllllly dead).
So I got half the life out of a 4x more expensive bulb. To boot, there's MERCURY in this bulb. Am I supposed to drive 20+ miles to a recycling facility to discard this? My other option is to poison my future groundwater. Not a great choice. What's so bad about the incandescent bulbs? Guess what-they are planning on making it impossible to buy the incandescent bulbs in only a few more years! "They" being the US government, Europe, and a couple other countries. Why?!?!?! I have to imagine the heat that a normal bulb puts out into the world can't be as bad as the mercury the CF bulbs use/contain. Unless they start a recycle program in the stores that sell the bulbs, most people are going to trash them.
Moral of the story: This is one person who will be stocking up on "normal" bulbs when we get closer to the mandated CF dates. I'll take a little heat over short life and mercury.
GO BULBS! :) :)
Susan and crew
Addendum: My typical usage patterns were exactly the same when I was using the normal bulbs, so that did not contribute to the short life :).