Switching from standard, incandescent lightbulbs to qualified compact fluorescent lightbulbs means you'll have to recycle them down the road because they contain mercury.

Switching from standard, incandescent lightbulbs to qualified compact fluorescent lightbulbs means you'll have to recycle them down the road because they contain mercury.

The switch is thought to be the easiest, least expensive step to reduce energy use, protect the environment and cut electricity costs, but these bulbs can't simply be thrown in the trash.

CFLs contain a small amount of mercury (4 mg compared to 500 mg in a thermometer). While they are safe to use, they should not go into the trash when they burn out. CFLs should either be be recycled or treated as hazardous household waste to ensure that the mercury doesn't enter the environment.

Jackson and Josephine counties hold an annual hazardous waste collection event each spring at the Jackson County Exposition Fairgrounds. For more information, contact your local solid waste collection company: Rogue Disposal & Recycling, Inc. at 541-779-4161; Ashland Sanitary & Recycling at 541-482-1471; Southern Oregon Sanitation at 1-800-922-1025; or Grants Pass Sanitation at 541-479-3371.

Once you have the disposal part worked out, saving energy can become a lifelong commitment.

If every home in America replaced just one incandescent lightbulb with a CFL, it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from more than 800,000 cars annually.

The bulbs:

Use up to 75 percent less energy and can last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs.Are a cool and safe alternative to incandescents because they operate at lower temperatures.Are available in many shapes, sizes, and color temperatures for all household applications.Are ideal in fixtures that are on for long periods of time or are in difficult to reach areas.Come with a two-year manufacturer warranty.