Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

CFLs can directly replace standard incandescent bulbs in most parts of your home. Standards were recently introduced in New Zealand to improve the quality and durability of CFLs.


  • Cost from $5 per bulb (dimmable bulbs may cost more)
  • Use up to 80% less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs for the same light output
  • A lifetime of at least 6,000 hours, around 6 times longer than a standard incandescent light bulb
  • Come in a wide range of different shapes, styles, sizes
  • Recently introduced performance standards ensure quality and performance
  • Look for the ENERGY STARĀ® to find the most energy efficient, best performing CFLs

Keep in mind

  • If you want to use CFLs with dimmer switches or in recessed down lights with built in reflectors, check the packaging to make sure you choose a model that suitsĀ 
  • CFLs shouldn't be used in closed fittings as they need good ventilation to ensure their long life
  • CFLs that are turned on and off a lot may have shorter life expectancy
  • Because CFLs contain a small amount of mercury (up to 5mg) take special care when handling and disposing of them
  • Try not to break them. Avoid using CFLs where they are easily broken, like in children's bedside lamps. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are a safer alternative. If you install CFLs hold them at their base and don't use excessive force
  • If a CFL breaks, vacate and air the room immediately for at least 15 minutes. Then follow the recommended clean up procedures to reduce your chance of mercury exposure

Clean up of Energy Saving Bulbs - New Zealand National Poisons Centre

Disposal and recycling of CFLs

At the end of their life, put CFLs into a sealed glass or plastic jar to protect them from breaking, and if possible recycle them. Ask your local lighting supplier or council about CFL recycling options near you. Otherwise put them in your normal household rubbish, preferably outside.

Where to buy

  • Easily available at most supermarkets, DIY outlets, variety stores and specialty lighting stores