CFLs: Don’t Bake All Bulbs

Oven lights are handy. Curious if a casserole’s ready? Flip the switch; no need to open the oven and release heat to get a baking update. But be careful when replacing this little light and never put a bulb in the oven that’s not built for high heat, such as a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL).

While CFLs are a great option to reduce energy use in your home when compared to classic incandescent bulbs, they’re not a safe alternative when it comes to extreme temperatures. Why won’t CFLs work? Instead of heating a filament until white-hot to produce light like an incandescent bulb, a fluorescent lamp contains a gas that produces ultraviolet (UV) light when excited by electricity. The UV light and the white coating inside the bulb result in visible light. Since CFLs don’t use heat to create light, they are 75 percent more energy efficient, but this same technology that cuts energy use doesn’t stand a chance in an oven’s 400+ degree heat.

If you find yourself needing to replace an oven light, look for an appliance light bulb that is designed for extreme temperatures in ovens and refrigerators. Also, keep these other safety tips in mind when it comes to using CFLs around your home:

  1. Don’t dim unless it’s dimmable. Buy a specifically designed CFL for a dimmer switch application
  2. Give them air. CFLs may be used in enclosed fixtures as long as the enclosed fixture is not recessed. Totally enclosed recessed fixtures create temperatures too high for CFLs.
  3. Protect CFLs outside. Look at the package or bulb for temperature restrictions before using a CFL outdoors.
  4. Do the twist. Always screw and unscrew the lamp by its base. Never forcefully twist the glass tubes of the CFL into a light socket.

CFLs are a great way to save energy in your home, but just make sure you’re using them correctly. And as always, if you want to recycle your CFLs after their use, you can drop them off in a sealed zip-top bag for recycling at any of our service centers.