If you've been avoiding CFLs because the spiral-shaped bulbs look weird in your fixtures, you're in luck. Most manufacturers have figured out how to hide the spirals in glass housings that are shaped like the bulbs we use today. (For the classic Edison shape and size, look for the term A19 on the packaging.) CFLs last 6,000 to 12,000 hours—a lot longer than the 750 to 1,500 hours you'll get from an incandescent—and use only a fraction of the energy. At $3 to $20, you'll pay slightly more for them but will quickly reap the benefits with lower energy bills. The availability of nonspiral and specialty-size CFLs was welcome news to the Titlows, who will use candelabra-style bulbs in a chandelier with glass and linen shades that will hang in their new family room.
In terms of looks, the only thing that's still a sticking point with CFLs is the ballast, the device that houses the bulb's circuitry. It's usually enclosed in plastic right above the screw-in base. "Some consumers think ballasts look bulky or distracting," says Arnold. Manufacturers are learning to make them more discreet; for now, opt for fixtures with shades that conceal them, like the Titlows' new chandelier.
For the new family room, the Titlows picked a chandelier from Troy Lighting
, with shades that conceal candelabra-style CFLs from Bulbrite