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Halogen bulbs seemed great at first, didn't they? In addition to being affordable, they also lasted forever -- a big plus in the days before compact fluorescents (CFLs). There's just one (big) problem: halogen bulbs give off lots of heat. So much heat, in fact, they can present a very serious fire hazard.

If you have halogen light fixtures or lamps in your home, be aware of their fire-starting potential -- and keep your home and family safe with the following tips.

1. Opt for CFLs. Consider replacing all your halogen light sources with compact fluorescent versions. CFLs – which are simply mini versions of the larger fluorescent bulbs we grew up with – use a whopping 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than regular incandescent bulbs.

CFL torchieres, meanwhile, will give you 25% more light for one quarter the energy of a halogen torchiere. By chucking your halogen lights you'll be safer and save lots of money in the long run!

2. Go low wattage. If you'd rather avoid the trouble and expense of refitting ceiling light fixtures, at least opt for lower wattage halogen bulbs than you're currently using. Also, never use a higher wattage bulb than recommended by the manufacturer. If you need more light, supplement your halogen fixtures with a CFL-powered lamp or two.

3. Going out? Turn 'em off! Avoid leaving lights on when you are out, but be especially diligent about halogen lights. Always switch them off before you leave the house.

4. Use sparingly. To avoid overheating, never leave halogen fixtures or lamps on for extended periods even when you are at home. Have a halogen desk lamp? Turn it off for some cool-down time each and every time you leave the room.

5. Use timers. If you keep forgetting to switch halogens off, hook them up to timers. You're busy. We understand. This will take some pressure off of you.

6. Keep bulbs clutter-free. Make sure halogen bulbs are surrounded by a couple feet of clear space at all times. That goes double for fabric items like drapes, towels and clothing. Never leave halogen desk lamps shining for long periods near books or loose papers either. A halogen bulb will scorch a solid door with ease. Think how quickly your drapes would go up in flames!

7. Toss torchieres. Halogen-lit torchieres, that is. They are considered the most dangerous and wasteful type of floor lamp. Now you know just how wasteful (as mentioned above), replace them with stay-cool halogen torchieres instead.

8. Use that dimmer. If your halogen fixtures or lamps are connected to dimmer switches, use them. Unless you really need a burst of bright light, keep the dimmers on their lowest settings. This will help keep the bulbs as cool as possible.

9. Keep away from small children and pets. Common sense here. Halogen bulbs get extremely hot, so keep them away from vulnerable fingers and whiskers.

10. Hands off. Avoid touching halogen bulbs with your bare fingers. The natural oils on your skin (even clean skin) can cause hot spots on a bulb and result in dangerous bulb failure.

  • Olivier

    Don't use CFLs! They are dangerous and aren't eco friendly. Break one in your home and you're in deep shit because of all the mercury. Use LEDs instead.

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