Retiring Early

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Light bulbs?!

Over the past year or so, I've seen a lot of PF Bloggers writing about the merits of replacing your light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs as a way to save both energy and ultimately more money. I used to think it was a bit crazy, but they have a valid point: why not save the planet and money at the same time?

A few months back, I joined in and bought a few CF bulbs myself and have been very pleased with the performance. They're bright, no flickering and they come on instantaneously. Frankly, I don't notice any difference, which is great.

Now, as we're settling into our house more and more, we're finding more things that we want to "make our own". You know, customize. It's the American way, right? Well, my wife is pretty hell-bent on replacing many of our normal light switches with dimmers. I'm fine with that, but one thing I'm not sure how to handle is the combination of CF bulbs with dimmers. My understanding is that they just don't mix -- is that right? Are there any CF bulbs that can be dimmed?

If I go around and replace all of my light switches with dimmer switches, am I doomed to use normal, high consumption bulbs for eternity? On the other hand, I'm guessing that that dimmed bulbs use less energy, so perhaps it's a wash. Normal "dimmable" bulbs vs. compact fluorescent "non-dimmable" bulbs.

Anyway, it's a bit of a mind exercise that I'm throwing out there. For us, it's more of a comfort of life issue than a savings issue, but if you know me yet, I'll take any savings I can get. Either way, drop a comment if you have any thoughts on the subject...



  • At 3/12/2007 7:12 AM, Anonymous Chris Hynes said…

    You can dim a fluorescent bulb, but not with a normal dimmer. You need a dimmable electronic ballast. I haven't actually installed one yet, but it's on my list. See wikipedia. This looks like a good place to get the ballasts -

  • At 3/13/2007 7:48 AM, Blogger fin_indie said…

    Good info to know that it *can* be done -- I wasn't aware of that. At $84 per ballast, however, it's simply not worth the cost for your average homeowner, especially the one trying to save costs.

  • At 3/14/2007 4:12 PM, Anonymous finance girl said…

    Have you talked to an electrician? They might electrician that we have used tons and tons of times (and spent tons and tons of money with) is Kemley Electric over in Ballard. Good guys. Very knowledgable. Worth a phone call. They have totally rewired our current house (circa 1937 ahh..knob and tube...) plus our rental over in Ballard (circa 1947).

  • At 3/15/2007 3:34 PM, Anonymous Lazy Man and Money said…

    I've heard of dimmable bulbs as Chris mentioned, but they aren't really cost effective.

    On another note, I've been trying to e-mail you from the comments that you write on my site, but I don't think it's getting through to you. There's a typo in your e-mail address or something. If you get a chance write me. My e-mail is my site's name at Thanks.


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