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People who know me know I'm a landlord. The housing crash happened just as I came into a small inheritance, and I used a lot of the money to buy houses that I rent out to support myself since my job evaporated.

I'm not a slum lord. I maintain my houses to the best of my ability. I respond to tenant concerns. I work with my tenants when they are having financial difficulties.

But, the nature of the business is that tenants come and go, and I'm regularly in the process of preparing a house for a new tenant.

One of the things I pride myself on is energy efficiency in my houses. I can't afford to put solar arrays on every roof, but I do make sure that the heating and cooling is as efficient as possible and that every light fixture has either a CFL or LED bulb.

And this points to one of my pet peeves. I'm preparing a house right now. I just spent $80 on light bulbs. Ceiling fans always get LED bulbs because the CFLs don't tend to hold up under the vibration of a fan. (Just my experience -- not any proven principle.)

Energy efficient bulbs are expensive compared to the old incandescent bulbs, but supposedly, they last long enough to make that up.

Heh... trouble is, as soon as most tenants move in, they substitute old-style bulbs for all my energy efficient bulbs. And they don't save my bulbs, they throw them away. (Going forward, I'm amending my lease to make it clear -- they will be charged for every missing LED or CFL bulb when they move out.)

Why do they take my bulbs, that are going to save them money on their electric bills, and throw them away? Because right-wing news idiots told them that CFLs are dangerous because of the mercury inside. (For the record, I only use CFLs in closed fixtures, open fixtures get LEDs.)

COME ON, PEOPLE! USE YOUR HEADS! The mercury is inside the bulb. If the bulb does not shatter, it can't escape. How many times a week do you deal with a broken light bulb?

The best way to avoid harm from the mercury in a CFL bulb is: If the bulb breaks for any reason, don't eat the broken pieces. Don't let your children eat the broken pieces.

The average CFL contains a miniscule amount of mercury -- 4 or 5 milligrams. It will not sneak out at night and kill your children.

The dangerous thing to do with a CFL is throw it in the trash, where it ends up in a landfill, along with all the other CFLs thrown out by ignorant people, where the tiny amount of mercury in each one can add up to a significant threat. And 30 years later, the EPA has to use a superfund to clean up the landfill.

I put the green bulbs in to save money on the tenant's electric bill -- not because I want to poison their children.

Now, I admit, if a child goes and gets a ladder and climbs up to the closed ceiling light fixture, opens the fixture and takes out the bulb to play with it, then accidentally drops it and breaks it and eats the glass shards -- the outcome will not be good. However, it won't be much better if the bulb is incandescent.

I'm getting tired of replacing light bulbs. I blame Fox News.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Another possibility.. (7+ / 0-)

    They steal them as they are leaving.

  •  I am contracting for repair to a home now (5+ / 0-)

    where windows were broken out, the sink was taken, and the carpet ripped up, not to mention the paneling removed from one room.
    I would gladly trade problems with you.  The #1 rule I have learned after some 30 years as a landlord and my family's experience over 80 years is that no kindness goes unpunished so I always use the cheap light bulbs and then the tenant can replace them as he pleases.  I have found it unprofitable to do any sort of replacement which is expected to last longer than 3 years as after 3 years of wear and tear it will have to be replaced for the next tenant anyway (such as carpets).
    It is the same way with repairs; you cannot afford to have more than one year's rent, as a rule of thumb, invested in repairing a home, 2 years at the very outside.  Beyond that and your horizon on your ROI is too far out and you are better off investing in something else

    •  I've had to put about $2,500 into this house (5+ / 0-)

      ... this time. That's about 25% of a year's rent and more than I like to have to spend between tenants. The damage this time was mostly from the tenant being clueless about basic housekeeping (one thing it's hard to evaluate before you rent).

      Carpets were ruined, the kitchen sink was so stained and scratched that I decided to replace it rather than try to clean it. (The sink was only 5 years old. I put it in during the initial renovation when I bought this house. I chose a cast-iron, acrylic surfaced sink, that matched the decor of the kitchen. Yesterday, I replaced it with stainless steel, which is what I'm putting in all my houses from now on.) Walls were damaged with deep scratches. (Plaster repairs then painting.)

      I've been working there for a month, but hopefully I'll have it rented again in the next week or so.

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 09:16:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That is so bizarre. I only change the light bulbs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, alypsee1

    when the old one blows. We also leave the bulbs there when we move. One thing I found out though is that a cfl will break easier than a regular bulb if it's in an area that cats like to run through and knock the lamp over. But those cfl bulbs do last longer. I've only had to replace one that burned out since I first heard of them. It lasted years. The other ones I had to replace the cats killed in the lamp.

  •  Just be careful with those CFLs as apparently in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    some states if one breaks you may have to call in a licensed HAZMAT cleanup service to take care of it.  Oh, and before you go quoting from the federal EPA site please note this section (bold parts added by me).

    This document contains information designed to be useful to the general public. This document:

    *  does not impose legally binding requirements, nor does it confer legal rights, impose legal obligations, or implement any statutory or regulatory provisions;
    *  does not change or substitute for any statutory or regulatory provisions;
    *   presents technical information based on EPA’s current understanding of the potential hazards posed by breakage of mercury-containing fluorescent lamps (light bulbs) in a typical household setting;
    *  is a living document and may be revised periodically without public notice.

    In other words, check with your state EPA first as you can't use that page to argue preemption of state rules regarding mercury.

    You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

    by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 10:53:55 AM PDT

    •  Kinda skeptical of the HAZMAT story. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, elsaf

      I'd be happy to see some documentation of it though. Here's a write-up of a similar story from Snopes

      However, having said that, I am concerned about mercury safety with CFL bulbs and for that and other reasons I am gradually upgrading my house to LED bulbs rather than CFLs.

      I recently had to deal with a broken mercury thermometer and that led me to do some reading on risks of household mercury exposures. Regarding a broken fluorescent bulb, it seems that there is a concern acutely following the breakage when the powder is in the air, especially if there are children around. The most complete and reasonable write-up I found is here. There are also plenty of state-based resources that suggest clean-up methods.

      •  Well apparently the problem in that story (and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elsaf

        yes, that was the same one from Snopes) with either the regulations or the checklist they followed.  In other words, a regular mercury spill requires a HAZMAT response and though the state EPA had something in place for Mercury-From Thermometer but not Mercury-From CFL it defaulted to the standard mercury spill procedure.  In other words, while calling a HAZMAT team is not technically required, according to the state EPA it was legally required (at least until they changed their mind).

        In other words, the flow chart was something like this.

        IF from thermometer then clean up using X
        ELSE hazmat response required

        But it should have been something like this:

        IF from thermometer then do X
        IF from CFL then do Y
        ELSE hazmat response required

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 11:44:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  for the record, elemental mercury, as in a thermom (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, Bluefin, bobtmn, BusyinCA

    eter, is not very dangerous. Mercury salts and methyl mercury OTOH are, however. I'm not sure whats in a cfl, but you don't have to call HazMat, that's just silly.
    People should be afraid of AGW, not tiny amounts of Hg.

    Those who quote Santayana are condemned to repeat him. Me

    by Mark B on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 11:26:44 AM PDT

    •  Playing with mercury (0+ / 0-)

      Many people of my generation played with mercury in science classes or around the home.  It was fun chasing the little beads around the kitchen floor, or scooting small beads into large ones in the process of picking it all up.

      We also used to turn pennies into silver by rubbing mecury on them.

      It didn't seem to hurt us at all, so I am very skeptical about CFLS being dangerous.

      What was I talking about again?

    •  Technically you don't but if the state EPA says to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elsaf

      call HazMat then you have to call HazMat even if the federal EPA says you can do it yourself on their website.  So it was the state being silly at least until they were forced to take it back by the publicity.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 07:36:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Do they take down LED bulbs or just CFLs? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater, elsaf, BYw

    I know that some people don't like the light cast by CFLs and some people like very bright 100 watt incandescents, but...

    incandescent light isn't exactly natural. It's something we've gotten used to.

    When we left our old home came to our first stop on the homeless road, we stayed at my mother-in-law's house.  Filled with nothing but incandescents, including some that are way..up..there.

    I had forgotten what a pain it is to have lights burn out on a regular basis.  Man! Why would anybody choose to live with that -- and pay more for the privilege -- when reasonable alternatives are available?

    We are wrestling with a very stubborn old motor coach to be our next home, and high on our list is to replace every light we can with LEDs.  When you may need to get your power from batteries for a while (and the rather sad old solar panels on the roof) you REALLY REALLY like efficient lights.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 01:16:27 PM PDT

    •  Both (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, NoMoreLies, Metric Only

      You might be surprised at how many people have no idea the difference between a CFL and LED. They just know that those new-fangled bulbs are dangerous ....

      When people are afraid that CFL bulbs are emitting poison, you can be pretty certain that they don't know what an LED bulb is.

      I got into it with one of my contractors last fall over CFLs. He considered them evil because they are made in China, "because Obama won't let them be made here because of the poisonous mercury."

      I asked him if he knew where incandescent bulbs were made. He didn't. The answer is, China.

      Just about all the light bulbs used in the United States are made in Asia. Not because "Obama!", but because GE shut down its U.S. bulb factories in the 1980s and sent the work to China. (I was working near a GE light bulb plant in Ohio in 1983 when GE shut it down and all but destroyed the small town where it was the largest employer.)

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 03:10:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We did the opposite (8+ / 0-)

    We bought CFLs for our apartment, carefully stored the incandescents for 9 years, and then put the incandescents back in when we left, taking our expensive CFLs with us to our new house.

  •  My landlord recently came around and took out the (5+ / 0-)

    LED's that we had put in and put up CFL's supplied by the electric company. I stood there and told him I was just going to take them out because the LED's were lower wattage but the guy didn't care. So now I have a bunch of CFL's in a cabinet that I guess I need to hang onto until I move out. The landlord certainly can't have the $30 odd each LED bulbs.

    •  Sounds like he could use some schooling... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Metric Only

      I like to use an ammeter I have setup in an extension cord to plug a lamp into. Change the bulbs and see the meter drop. It's just basic electricity, but so many are unaware of what a watt is.

      Reducing Oil Imports One Volt at a time.

      by Volt3930 on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 04:17:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Must've been a while ago (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Metric Only

      You can get good LED bulbs for $10 each now.

      The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them. - Albert Einstein.

      by Cvstos on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 04:22:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I picked up a couple of LEDs this week... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw, Metric Only

        ... for $6 apiece. They were odd looking, flat rather than round. But a flat bulb throws just as much light. There is no reason that the new technology has to look exactly like old. We have a shape in mind when you say "light bulb" that has a lot more to do with early-20th-century glass blowing technology than the needs of casting light. As long as the bases will fit in current lamps and fixtures, there is no reason we have to stick to the same shape.

        Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

        by elsaf on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 05:36:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I bought them over 2 years ago when we moved (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elsaf

        into this apartment. I knew we wouldn't be moving again for a while and figured buy bulbs once and never again and keep the electric bill low.

  •  My wife and I (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, Metric Only

    have invested with our landlord to build a new property. I've insisted on LED bulbs in every light socket they can go. This gives me a warning about what to expect and what to have to explain to people. Thank you.

    The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them. - Albert Einstein.

    by Cvstos on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 04:25:30 PM PDT

  •  Speaking as the son of landlords, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    Deposit deductions might not help. People these days seem to just treat the deposit as a fine and an excuse to not pay the last month's rent or various utility bills because they know the utility companies will just revert the accounts back to the property owner, and make you pay the principal amount and/or deposit/connection fees to get the services restarted during the cleanup phase.

    "Elect Republicans, and they will burn the place down. And they will laugh while they do it and have a great time. And then what?" -- Rachel Maddow

    by LumineHall on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 05:54:26 PM PDT

  •  There are places cfl's aren't appropriate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    Outside, in an unheated barn or garage, for example, because CFL's won't work in really cold weather.  LED's don't put out enough lumens for some of those outside uses, either.  Some people are sensitive to the "60 cycle flicker" of CFL's and the color temperature of the lamps to be used needs to be chosen carefully in order to get that warm light we are used to.

    But the real lie is that "incandescent lamps aren't available".  It is a lie spread by the anti-environmental movement and the GOP to fire up their base.  Halogen lamps can be purchased and they are a type of incandescent, but they do have the disadvantage of putting out a lot of heat.  Regular old incandescent lamps are available in the form of "Rough Service" lamps, designed for areas of extreme heat or cold or high vibration and they can be had in any of the common incandescent wattages.

    Not an advert for this distributor, just an illustration:

    http://www.bulbs.com/...

    •  There are CFLs designed for outdoor use (0+ / 0-)

      I have several in my outdoor lights at my own home. I have LEDs in the porch lights at my rental houses.

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 07:16:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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