544px-Compact-Flourescent-BulbWhen I brainstormed with Susanna Donato of Cheap Like Me to start this Winterizing Challenge, she reminded me that a fast way to get ready for winter is to update my light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). She may have heard my guilty silence.

Since the recent daylight savings change, I’ve had to accept that my once-sunny home office is now dark later in the morning and earlier at night. It didn’t take long before I reached to turn on a lamp, only to discover the light bulb was burned out. And I was embarrassed to notice the bulb was an old, non-energy-efficient model.

While I have heard the benefit of CFLs time and time again, sometimes I choose the less expensive, incandescent bulbs because I’m worried about my budget. And I wonder how many other folks are doing the same.

The combination of the short life of my cheap bulbs and my new green mentor inspired me to do my homework. Talking with Donato, I learned she switched out 23 bulbs two years ago and estimated her savings at $41 for the year.

I priced bulbs online and found an interesting feature on HomeDepot.com—a calculator that shows the savings you’ll get from using CFLs. I need to replace five bulbs, and according to the calculator, I’ll save $17 per year, the light bulbs will pay for themselves in 10 months, and over the life of the bulbs I’ll save $226.

Bonus: Donato has some good advice for us renters: If you move into an apartment with traditional incandescent bulbs, simply remove them and save them in a box. Replace them with CFLs. When you move out, pack up your energy-efficient bulbs and replace the incandescent ones.