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Warning: Don’t Bake All Bulbs

Most CFLs aren’t safe for oven use

Oven lights are handy. Curious if a casserole’s ready? Flip the switch. There’s no need to open the oven and release heat. But be careful when replacing this little light. Never put a bulb in the oven that’s not built for high heat.

Compact fluorescent lamps use less energy than classic incandescent bulbs, but they’re not safe in extreme temperatures. Most lighting labels designate safe temperatures, but warnings may be in fine print.

Need to replace your oven light? Look for appliance lightbulbs. These bulbs are designed for extreme temperatures in ovens and refrigerators. The hardy bulbs are here to stay; 40-watt appliance bulbs are exempt from federal lighting efficiency standards.

Why won’t CFLs work? Instead of heating a filament until white-hot to produce light like an incandescent bulb, a fluorescent lamp contains a gas that produces ultraviolet light when excited by electricity. The UV light and the white coating inside the bulb result in visible light. Because CFLs don’t use heat to create light, they are 75 percent more energy efficient. But the technology that cuts energy use doesn’t stand a chance in an oven’s 400-plus degree heat.