Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saving Money, and Buyer Beware!

Last week I posted a few frugal tips. In keeping with that theme, I thought I'd provide you with a few great links.

Every Monday for the past month or so, I've visited Amy's site, The Mother Load to learn the day's REDBOX code. You know, the red boxes that are popping up at every McDonald's and Wal*Mart? Well, normally, an overnight rental is $1. That's cheap enough, right? By using the code that Amy gives, you can rent for FREE each Monday! We are in town every Monday afternoon, and so we've taken to getting a movie. Verne returns it the next day. The great thing about the REDBOX is that you can return to a different location than where you rented from. Monday evenings have become a free family movie night at our house.

WOW! As I was searching the internet for a picture of the redbox to include in the post, I came across this site. Apparently you can get codes for MOST days of the week! You should still visit Amy as she has loads of great frugal tips. ;0)

Becky posted about how to save loads of money on your electric bill. Check out her post for some great tips such as cooking in a crockpot that sits in your garage or on your deck to keep from heating up your house.

Now for the buyer beware. I'm all for saving money everywhere that I can, but I find that the public is not too informed when it comes to the new energy efficient light bulbs. I AM NOT saying that you shouldn't use them, I'm just saying that we should be well educated before making a choice. My husband and I spent well over $100 replacing all of the light bulbs in our home. That was before I was informed. Now, I wish I hadn't spent that money.

For one thing, we did not see a change in our electric bill. You'd think with replacing all of the bulbs at once, we would have realized at least a small savings. Second, the bulbs have not lasted like the packaging claims they will. We've had them burn out just as quickly as traditional bulbs. And third, and definitely the most important point, is the safety of these bulbs. These bulbs contain mercury. We're told that they are perfectly safe as long as they are disposed of properly, but sometimes, accidents happen and bulbs break.

Special handling upon breakage is currently not printed on the packaging of household CFL bulbs in many countries. It is important to note that the amount of mercury released by one bulb can exceed U.S. federal guidelines for chronic exposure.

I have a friend that was rearranging her bedroom furniture when she accidentally broke the light in the ceiling fan that hung above her bed. She left the room and called the EPA, asking them how to clean the bulb up. Thankfully, she did. She was told to open the window immediately to let fresh air into the room. She was also told to turn off the central heat/air. Any bedding that was under the light was to be discarded, not washed! (Washing mercury contaminated clothing will contaminate the entire washer!) This meant two down comforters had to be trashed. If the broken bulb had landed on the carpet, she was told to pull that up as well. (While the EPA leaves this decision up to the consumer, it is recommended if you have small children/pets that play on the carpet.) Imagine if she had her bedding off and had to replace the entire mattress. She was told not to use a sweeper or a broom, but sticky tape and wet wipes to clean up any broken glass and mercury residue. Last, but not least, she was told that she should have the air quality in their home tested for several months. Money saving? You decide.

Please be aware that I'm not trying to start a debate, but to inform. Our government is promoting these bulbs, but is not doing a good job of informing people of how to handle them if they break. Check out the recommendations of the EPA found here.


Dianne said...


I just heard this on the news a couple of days ago and was so surprised to learn this information too.

We have had better luck with the longevity of the bulbs though. I haven't had to replace any of them yet and I have had them for months.

I have one in the outside lamppost...I bought one just for that purpose and it has been out there for over a year and it comes on every night and is on all night long. We were replacing the regular bulbs about every few weeks.

I don't know about saving on electricity though. Our bills are running about the same, I think. It is hard to judge since we have a heat pump and had a colder winter and hotter summers than usual and that may account for it being about the same.

Abigail Grace is a beautiful name. Thanks for sharing. I commented on my blog concerning her name in reply to your telling me. You can check it out if you want.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the information about the light bulbs. I'd heard some of it before but only in bits and pieces. I have heard that eventually we will all be *forced* into using only these bulbs....Do you know if this is true? I certainly hope not!

Terri said...

Tracy, thank you for letting us know! My landlord just gave us a box of these to use and I certainly did NOT know all of that. It certainly would be nice if they would inform the consumer.

lady jane said...

Oh my. I had NO idea. This is serious stuff, Tracy.

We've been discussing changing all our bulbs soon, wait'll I tell the Mr what you shared!

Thank you!

Jodi said...

Wow, Tracy! I'm like Michele - I've heard bits about theses bulbs, but never this much detail. I've also heard that we're going to be forced to use these ... If that's true, what a nightmare! The average person will not dispose of these light bulbs properly and our landfills will become toxic waste dumps!

On the lighter side - thanks for the money saving tips and links. :o)

~~Deby said...

You know...I too have heard about these lightbulbs, for me..I just don't like them. So as I can I am going to start stocking up. I know you can't do this forever but I am going to do what I can to hold off.
WHY, isn't this information being plastered all over the news, like the *salmonella/tomato* scare that really WASN'T tomatoes...what if that lady had not called...
my goodness what a mess ...and we are to trust our government..*NOT*

Jennifer said...

what a great post!

we just started using RedBox this weekend... I am STOKED to learn your tricks with the codes! Thank you!! (although our DVD player just went out, ha!)

we changed out all of our bulbs too. Although they've lasted longer, it makes me so nervous to know how dangerous they can be. All of your information is very helpful. I believe I'll go back to my regular bulbs when these burn out (but I'm still hoping it will be 7 years like my box says!)

Hope Mac got home safely!

Beck said...

We HAVE seen SUBSTANTIAL savings on our hydro bill with the energy efficient bulbs - over $30 a month! And the one light that was burning out A LOT (because it's always on, in a windowless upstairs bath) has only been changed once in the past year. So it's been worthwhile for us. I would contact the manufacturer of the bulbs you bought and complain, because they should last SUBSTANTIALLY longer!

collin said...

I love our Monday movie nights.

Anonymous said...

tracy, I also read about this. I have yet to invest in these lightbulbs.

Thank you for letting us know.

many blessings,


Vicky said...

I've heard this information regarding CFL's, too and it's very scary.

What I find most disturbing is the effort to take traditional incandescent bulbs off the market, so we as consumers have no choice but to buy CFL's. Yuck!

DH loves the CFL's but I don't find that they lower our electric bill much (if at all) and they DO NOT last as long - in fact, I think they are pretty short-lived. So much for "5 years" as they claim on the package.

And my biggest gripe is the mercury. With having small children in the house, I am very worried about possible breakage and the cleanup measures I'd have to take. Not worth it in my opinion.

K. Humby said...

Thank you for sharing, Tracy... I actually had a question in regard to your choc. zucchini cake... You mentioned alternating mixing ingredients along with buttermilk, however, I did not see the above listed as an ingredient. If you could get back to me when you get a chance,I would appreciate it!!!

His Girl said...

woooooooooooooooooow. my jaw is just dropped! that's amazing.

50s Housewife said...

Oh Wow! I had not heard this. Things are broken around here pretty regularly, so I'm going to have to be super careful. I don't think I'll put any of those bulbs in the kids' rooms.

Cyndy said...

I have also heard that there is a growing problem in disposing of these "money saving light bulbs" in our land fills. Apparently they don't know what to do with them because of the mercury content!

Oy! We have a lot of them that we are using in our home but I am still ambivelent about it as I really like the incandescent bulbs more.

Thanks for posting this information!