​Energy-efficient LED lighting

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) have taken the lighting industry by storm. Simply put, an LED is a chip of semiconducting material that releases energy in the form of light. LEDs are used in reading lamps, cabinet lighting, recessed ceiling lights, outdoor and landscape lighting, as well as art lighting, stair and walkway lighting, retrofit bulbs and more.


LEDs use up to 75% less energy and last up to 35 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs, light up instantly and many are dimmable. LEDs are best used in directional lighting applications like task and reading lamps, spotlights and recessed lighting.

If you replaced your CFLs with LEDs, the following are tips to help with proper disposal.

Don't forget to recycle

If you want to help the environment, using energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights is a step in the right direction. But it's important to recycle CFLs because they contain small amounts of mercury.

On average, we're talking about five milligrams of mercury – or one-fifth the amount in an average watch battery, and one-hundredth the amount in an amalgam dental filling. No mercury is released when CFLs are intact or in use. But, in California, it's against the law to toss any lamps containing mercury into the regular trash.

SMUD is working with state and local agencies to develop better recycling options and to get manufacturers to make CFLs with less mercury. In the SMUD service area, mercury-containing bulbs can be recycled at locations listed below.

Cleaning up a broken CFL

The Environmental Protection Agency offers the following clean-up and disposal guidelines:

  • Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
  • Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard and place in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use disposable rubber gloves if available. Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the plastic bag.
  • Place all cleanup materials in a second sealed plastic bag.
  • Store the plastic articles in an outdoor area until they can be recycled properly at one of the sites listed below.
  • If a CFL breaks on a rug or carpet, remove as much of the material as possible without using a vacuum cleaner. Sticky tape can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.
  • If vacuuming is needed, clean the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag and put the bag or vacuum debris in sealed plastic bags. Store the sealed articles in an outdoor area until they can be properly recycled.

CFL recycling options

Here are links to more information on municipal waste-disposal in the SMUD service area:

The following retailers also accept old CFLs for recycling:

  • ACE Hardware (all Sacramento-area locations)
  • Orchard Service Hardware (all Sacramento-area locations)
  • Home Depot (all Sacramento-area locations)
  • IKEA: 700 Ikea Court, West Sacramento