Not now, I’m organizing my lightbulb collection

bulbsOften, I find myself diving into a big project in my spare time, and all too often, my spare time happens at 8:00 on a Saturday night. While the footloose and fancy free are out tripping the light fantastic, I’m up to my elbows in some dusty project at home.

Thus, I spent one recent, scintillating evening organizing my cord and light bulb collections.

“Be prepared” is my motto. So before I made the switch to CFLs, I had a collection of light bulbs of all wattages, indoor and outdoor flood lights, candelabra bulbs and nightlight bulbs. It even merited a compliment from Bob, the contractor who redid our last bathroom. (“Wow! Nice bulb box!”)

Now, I realized that although my box was full of incandescent bulbs, I wasn’t using any of them — and I was accumulating a stack of plastic bulb-boxes outside my bulb box. Time to pare the light bulb collection. (Do I know how to have fun, or what?)

What to do with the old bulbs? As far as I can tell, the main options — besides saving some for emergencies or using them as darning eggs — are to throw them away or freecycle them. Those more creative — and modern — than I can get funky with their old light bulbs through “creacycling,” or creative recycling.

If you are switching to CFLs, read the fine print on the package: Most of them really are guaranteed for five years, seven years or longer. But to take advantage of that guarantee, you must return the bulb with a receipt and its packaging to the store (or chain) where you bought it. This level of organization is on joke: The flood and dimmer bulbs I’m buying cost $7 to $15 each — and I’ve already had to return two for not being up to snuff.

Fortunately the see-through packages make excellent receipt holders. Take a permanent marker and jot on the outside of the box where and when you bought the bulb, and where you’ve installed it so you can tell which bulb it is if and when it poops out early.

Now, if only I could find the non-working candelabra CFL bulbs I set aside in a “safe place” to return … I guess some things never change, no matter how much electricity you save.