While CFLs do have a higher purchase price than their incandescent counterparts, the upside is that they use one-fifth of the power and last six to ten times longer. In fact, Energy Star estimates that each CFL can save you about $30! So if you want to save some money and make your house greener, convert to CFL bulbs!
Get to know CFLs. CFL is an acronym for “compact fluorescent lights,” and they function as an alternative to incandescent bulbs. CFLs work by sending an electric current to excite a glowing phosphor coating inside the bulb, which lights up when it’s turned on. Because this design doesn’t lose energy to heat, it consumes less power.
Decide where your CFLs should go. CFL bulbs are great for most areas, but they shouldn’t go in rooms where they’re switched on and off frequently (like a high-traffic bathroom). If your light fixture is turned on and off more than 20 times in a 24 hour period, your CFL’s lifespan will be significantly decreased. Note: If you have dimmer switches in your house that you want to switch to CFL bulbs, make sure you purchase “dimmable CFLs” for them – regular CFLs will wear out really fast!
Choose your CFL style. Unlike incandescent bulbs, you can choose the shape, size, color temperature and brightness level of CFL bulbs. Check out the design implications of CFL bulbs to decide what bulb characteristics are right for you.
Know your wattage equivalent. A CFL’s light output is measured in lumens instead of watts, but most CFL bulbs will have a wattage equivalent listed on the label. This makes it easy to find the appropriate CFL replacement. If a wattage equivalent isn’t listed on the package, go by this conversion: the average 100-watt incandescent bulb produces about 1,600 lumens.
Go shopping. It’s time to buy your bulbs! If you want more information before you hit the store, check out this CFL buyer’s guide from Energy Star.