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Ask Marilyn: When to Turn Off Fluorescent Lights
Joe Vanderlaan of Brooksville, Florida, writes:
Marilyn: I've heard that you shouldn't turn off a fluorescent light when you leave the room unless you're going to be away for several hours. Is this true?
No, you should turn off a compact fluorescent bulb if you're going to be out of the room for only 15 minutes or more. In fact, turning it off even if you're going to be away for only five minutes would save energy, but too much on-and-off shortens the life of the bulb, so 15 minutes is a good standard for everyday use.