DCSEU Is Your Guiding Light

There’s an abundance of energy efficient choices in the lighting aisle these days. Whether you choose based on the color temperature of the light, the type of fixture, or brightness, you can use DCSEU's Lighting Guide to help you find the right bulb for every fixture in your home.

Lighting Guide Illustration

CFLs and LEDs can help lighten your electric bills

  • ENERGY STAR-qualified CFLs use about 75% less energy, and ENERGY STAR qualified LEDs use about 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
  • You can save more than $65-$100 per year in energy costs just by replacing the bulbs in your home's five most frequently-used light fixtures with ENERGY STAR models.
  • ENERGY STAR-qualified lighting also produces less heat when operating, so it can help you save on air conditioning costs during the hot months in the District.

Top 5 things to know about CFLs and LEDs

  1. ENERGY STAR qualified LED bulbs can have a useful life of 25,000 hours or more, 25 times longer than incandescent light bulbs and 2.5 times longer than CFLs.
    An ENERGY STAR qualified LED will last on average 25 years. Much longer than other bulbs.
  2. CFLs are very versatile and can fit a wide range of fixtures – just about anywhere you used to use a traditional incandescent bulb. 
  3. LEDs offer crisp, natural-looking light, perfect for reading areas, kitchens, and anywhere that light quality is especially important.
  4. CFLs are more widely available at retail outlets and are still more affordable than LEDs.
  5. LED bulbs use both light and energy more efficiently by producing light only where it is needed.

The facts about energy efficient lighting


ENERGY STAR LEDs are your best bet. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label, awarded to select LED products that meet strict efficiency, quality, and lifetime criteria. While LEDs are already beginning to surpass the quality and efficiency of existing lighting technologies, testing by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has shown wide variability in performance of LED products. Only well-designed products used in the proper applications will provide the energy savings, lighting quality, and long-life benefits of LEDs.


CFLs have come a long way. Compact fluorescent lighting has not always been the best solution for many homeowners, despite the potential for high energy savings. Many early buyers were dissatisfied with things like flickering, humming, and the harsh quality of light.

CFL technology has come a long way. The CFLs you find on the shelf today:

  • provide high-quality light in a range of colors that rival the array of incandescent options;
  • no longer flicker or hum;
  • come in an assortment of shapes to suit nearly every lighting need. There are even covered versions for those who prefer the traditional look of incandescent bulbs; 
  • and last as long as 10 years.

How to recycle and dispose of energy efficient light bulbs


Non-working bulbs

Recycle it!

CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, which is essential in conducting electricity in CFL bulbs. Mercury can be hazardous to the environment, so it is important to recycle your used CFL bulbs rather than throw them away.

Home Depot, Ace Hardware and True Value Hardware will recycle used CFL bulbs. You can also contact your local bulb retailer to find out if they recycle bulbs as well.


Dispose of properly.

If a CFL bulb breaks, it can release some of its mercury as vapor. Therefore, you must follow specific cleanup steps to avoid coming into contact with the mercury, the DCSEU recommends following the EPA guidelines for cleanup of broken CFLs.

You can dispose broken CFLs at Fort Totten Transfer Station.


Recycle it!

If CFLs and the need for proper disposal is an issue for you, LEDs may be a great lighting choice. More than 95% of an LED bulb is recyclable; call your local waste management company and visit the Department of Public works website for information on collecting and recycling LEDs.

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