To conserve both energy costs and the environment from within your home, seek higher inspiration.That is, look at your ceilings and contemplate the light bulbs screwed into the fixtures. The
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Ikea recycles the light bulbs it sells, and the EPA provides information about recycling programs nationwide. The agency also provides information on what to do if you break a bulb -- a situation that requires caution but not panic. Energy Star has an information sheet you can download if you need more information on getting rid of your bulbs. A more immediate issue exists on the buying end: If you try to switch in these bulbs throughout your home you'll quickly find they still don't easily work everywhere. CFBs that are small and decorative enough to use in a chandelier are hard to come by and pricey -- costing $7 to $12 apiece at one online lighting store. They also don't play well with dimmers. Environmental Defense explains why, if you can find dimmable CFBs at all, they won't have the same light range as an incandescent. And they'll also be expensive. Even Wal-Mart ( WMT), which has been heavily promoting energy efficient bulbs, carries only one dimmable CFB in its online store, and that one costs $12. At an eco-friendly specialty store they can cost as much as $20 apiece. Despite these drawbacks, Americans who aren't naturally inclined to buy into the money saving and green advantages of newer bulbs may be given a big nudge from Congress. Two Senators have introduced legislation that would compel light bulb makers to start phasing out conventional 40-, 60-, 75- and 100-watt incandescents in favor of halogen, compact fluorescent and more efficient incandescent bulbs starting in 2012. The bipartisan bill was developed with cooperation from both major light-bulb makers and environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council. Bright idea or not, with that kind of cooperation behind it, the legislation probably has legs. Why not get out in front of it and save some money and a few carbon emissions without that push from Washington.