Bulb Exchange

Compact Fluorescent Bulb (CFL) Swap

In 1990, Tufts was the first university to sign the EPA Green Lights pledge, a promise to upgrade lighting in 90% of our floor space. This program focused on institutional lighting (overheads and permanent fixtures). Learn more about the EPA Green Light Program and Lighting Upgrades & Motion Sensors.

What about the other lights on campus, though: desk lamps, floor lamps, wall sconces, and chandeliers? The Tufts Climate Initiative (now the Tufts Office of Sustainability) took a look at these lights and found a great opportunity to make a significant reduction in the University’s emissions.

Since the inception of the program, Tufts has distributed over 4000 compact fluorescent lightbulbs to students, staff and faculty.

If you would like to receive a free CFL, bring an incandescent bulb (from campus) to swap to the Office of Sustainability, located in the same space as the Tufts Institute of the Environment in the back of Miller Hall (Tufts community members only).


More Information

Why Do It?
Important Things To Know About CFLs

How to Buy CFLs for Your Home

Download our Lighting Brochure (with lots of information about lights, energy consumption, and climate change) as a PDF (30 KB) or Word document (162 KB).
Learn More About the Environmental Impacts of Electricity.

Why Do It?

Replacing energy-hogging incandescents with energy-saving fluorescents is a simple, effective way to slow the rate of global climate change while saving Tufts money. There are lots of reasons this is a good idea.

It’s Good for the Environment.
Most electricity used for lighting is generated by coal and oil power plants (more about electricity). These power plants pollute the atmosphere and emit CO2, which causes global climate change. Each CFL that replaces an incandescent bulb can cut CO2 emissions by 1,300 pounds over its lifetime, saving the energy equivalent of 50 to 60 gallons of oil. In addition, for every CFL used, eight fewer incandescent lightbulbs end up in landfills.

It’s Economical.
One CFL uses 25% of the energy of an incandescent bulb and lasts nine times as long, or up to 7 years. This savings averages $32 per bulb from lower electricity bills and less frequent replacement costs. And, the Office of Sustainability will provide you with a CFL for free (if it’s replacing a bulb used on campus)!

It’s Efficient.
Incandescent bulbs waste 90 percent of their energy generating heat. CFLs use only one quarter as much energy to produce the same light. The “fuel” efficiency of a CFL is like replacing a car that gets 20 miles per gallon with one that gets 100 miles per gallon.

It’s Easy.
CFLs come in more sizes and shapes than traditional lightbulbs, and it’s easy to find one that works perfectly for your lamp. Older fluorescent bulbs had a reputation for bad lighting quality and noise. Today’s CFLs use a much better mix of phosphors (the white powder coating the bulb inside), and have color qualities much closer to incandescent bulbs. New CFL technology also has eliminated humming and flickering.

Important things to know about CFLs

1. CFLs reach their fullest brightness when they have been on for 1-2 minutes.

2. CFLs are less bright in cold environments (e.g. outside).

3. You cannot use a regular CFL in a dimmable or three-way fixture. You have to buy a dimmable/three way CFL. Regular CFLs will not work with a dimmable switch.

4. CFLs contain small amounts of mercury. Do not dispose of them in your trash. Call your municipality to find out how to dispose of them. (At Tufts, e-mail recycle@tufts.edu)

5. Not all brands are of equal quality. A CFL should not flicker. It should last a very long time. If your CFL flickers or burns out quickly, do not hesitate to return it. Also, try different brands to find the brand you like best.

Questions? Call the Office of Sustainability at 617-627-5517 or e-mail us at sustainabilityoffice@tufts.edu.

Back to Top

How To Buy Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Electric utilities offer discounts on CFLs. Check with your local utility to determine your eligibility.

There are three ways to buy CFLs:

1. At your local hardware store or Home Depot.
You will receive rebate coupon(s). (You might want to call ahead as some hardware stores may not have the coupons in store.)

2. On the Web.
Both sites will give you the utility discounts.

3. Via mail order.
The utilities produce a catalogue with energy efficient lighting products (bulbs and fixtures). Catalogues can be ordered by calling 1-800-473-9150.