Problem-Solving Compact Fluorescents
CFLs have come a long way since the early days of cool, unflattering color temperatures and inconvenient sizes and shapes
Switching to compact fluorescent lightbulbs is a simple way to save on your energy bills. The challenge is figuring out how the funky spirals are going to work with your decor—and your light fixtures. Thankfully, innovations in both the look of CFLs and the technology that makes them glow now let you enjoy your energy savings without sacrificing aesthetics. Here's a sampling of the latest CFL problem-solvers.
Specially designed CFLs can now replace incandescent bulbs in dimmable fixtures. They come in a variety of shapes, including the best-known spiral and the newer candelabra-style version for chandeliers. Feit Electrical's 23-watt Dimmable EcoBulb; about $12.75, Earth Aid
Three-way bulbs are great for spaces that call for a variety of light levels, such as your living room, where you might need a bright bulb for reading, then something toned down for watching TV.
Westinghouse's 14/19/32-watt 3-way bulb; about $17.89, ACE Hardware
If you're looking to light up your entry or walkway, many CFLs now come designed for outdoor use. The casing over the spiral of this post bulb protects it from the elements while offering reliable illumination so that you don't miss that porch step.
General Electric's 14-watt CFL Post Light, about $8.99, ACE Hardware
The trademark spirals of CFLs are probably most distracting and out of place on elegant chandeliers. That's why manufacturers such as n:vision now make smaller decorative CFLs encased in frosted glass. With the less-attractive spiral of the bulb hidden, you can save energy without ruining the effect of the fixture. Many come with adapters to ensure a good fit.
N:vision's 3-watt candelabra, about $6.47, The Home Depot
Encased in wide, reflective, weatherproof casings, CFL floodlights provide a nicely diffused downward illumination out on your deck or patio. Still, avoid using them with motion detectors—the often frequent switching between on and off will shorten the bulbs' life.
Philips' Marathon Classic 65, about $28.99 for 6, Bulbs.com
The new Micro-Mini Twist is currently the smallest CFL on the market that still has a medium base, which makes it a perfect fit for just about any lamp. Its low-key stature allows you to choose a lampshade to complement the room, rather than the size of your lightbulb.
Osram Sylvania's 13-watt Micro-mini, about $9.99 for 2, EFI
Some new CFL bulbs come specially rated for the recessed lights in your home. Unlike their regular predecessors, these won't overheat and burn out in the poorly ventilated spaces.
General Electric's 11-watt CFL Indoor Floodlight, about $17.88 for 3, Walmart
CFLs now come in many special decorative shapes, such as the rotund "globe" bulb. Great for wide-mouthed bathroom vanity lights and hanging pendants, these lights provide both style and energy savings.
N:vision's 9-watt G25, about $9.97 for 2, The Home Depot