Energy and energy savings myths get passed around surprisingly rapidly, often with little scrutiny. But you should always think critically when you hear a "tip" on how to save energy–and dig a little deeper to separate the myths from the facts.

MYTH: Fluorescent lighting is unhealthy.

TRUTH: Fluorescent lighting has changed dramatically in the last few years. Today's fluorescents have greatly improved color quality. And the annoying flicker and hum have been eliminated from fluorescents that use electronic incandescent lighting. Because they require less electricity, fluorescents generate less power plant pollution, which has many known health effects. Fluorescent lights do contain small amounts of mercury and must be disposed of properly. However, additional mercury releases are avoided thanks to reduced use of mercury-containing fossil fuels used to generate electricity. If it's been a while since you tried fluorescent lights, you might give them another chance. The oft sited claim of fluorescent lights "sapping people's vitamins" and the like have no basis in fact.

MYTH: Halogen lighting is superefficient.

TRUTH: It's true that halogen lights use slightly less energy than standard incandescent bulbs, but many halogens require transformers that can use extra energy, even when the light is off. They also tend to put off a great deal of heat, which may add to the cooling load of a home during hot weather. Halogens can also pose a serious fire hazard. By comparison, compact fluorescent lights are nearly three times as efficient and put off far less heat. Many new models are dimmable, like halogens.

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