April 22nd is Earth Day in the United States. In celebration The Home Depot is giving away one million compact fluorescent lightbulbs to people who visit their stores this Sunday. Rumor has it that the free bulbs will be N:Vision soft whites, which were the best in a recent Popular Mechanics lab test.

photo by David Hobby of Strobist

Electric lighting consumes nearly a quarter of the average home energy budget. Because compact fluorescent bulbs are energy efficient, they cost less to use. In his excellent guide to saving electricity, Michael Bluejay writes:

The easiest way to save electricity is to replace your light bulbs with screw-in compact fluorescent bulbs. They put out light similar to standard bulbs but use 75% less electricity.

Compact fluorescent bulbs also last longer than incandescents. It’s true that they’re more expensive initially (up to $10/bulb), but the typical CF bulb will save you nearly $10/year. How many lightbulbs do you have in your house? How many could you replace with compact fluorescents? How much money would that save you?

Even if The Home Depot only gives you one free bulb, you can purchase several more while you’re there. It’ll save you money in the long run!

To learn more about compact fluorescent bulbs, visit One Billion Bulbs. The Home Depot Eco Options page includes a calculator that demonstrates how much you can save with CFLs — click the red “energy efficient” box at the bottom of the page. See also the incandescent vs. CFL vs. LED light bulb challenge at Product Dose. Finally, Nickel documented his changeover to CFLs — he replaced 107 bulbs!

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