Compact Flourescent
Until that future arrives, the darlings of the green lighting world are the cheap, superefficient, and readily available CFLs. They use two-thirds less energy than incandescents and last up to 10 times longer. Each incandescent bulb you replace with a compact fluorescent can save you $30 on energy bills over its lifetime. Best of all, CFLs cost little more than incandescents—about $3 to $5 for a 26-watter (equivalent to a 100-watt incandescent). New three-way and dimmable versions run $10 to $14.

If you haven't tried one of these lately, you might be surprised by what you see. "A lot has happened to the CFL in the past five years," says Kim Freeman, of GE's Consumer and Industrial division. "The light quality is better and not nearly as harsh. It's much more like an incandescent." Other chronic problems, such as nonstandard base sizes, have been eliminated, too.

Still, CFLs aren't perfect. The biggest knock—and the one that's got environmentalists bothered—is that they contain mercury, meaning they have to be disposed of as hazardous waste to avoid contaminating our landfills and water supplies. Still, if the bulbs are disposed of properly, the benefits outweigh the risks. After all, since the mercury in CFLs creates more efficient lights, we save power, thereby reducing emissions from power plants—including mercury.

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