Compact Fluorescent Lamps, or CFL's for short, have changed a lot in recent years. While the energy savings was unquestionable, the quality of the light coming off a CFL casts a shadow on their practical use, especially for areas where a crisp bright illumination was needed.
The good news is that now, as with old-fashioned incandescent bulbs, CFLs are available in a wide range of light colors and styles to suit different living environments and task needs. Here's a few tips to illuminate your shopping for CFL lighting:
- First, look for the Energy Star label. All CFLs are not created equal and Energy Star qualified CFLs use around 75 percent less energy than standard incandescents and last up to 10 times longer. You'll save $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb's lifetime, and they'll give off 75 percent less heat for a safer, cooler glow.
- CFLs are labeled with a description of the light style and color they provide, from "soft white" to "daylight." A bulb's correlated color temperature (CCT), measured in kelvins, will also tell you what to expect. Lower numbers such as 2700K mean light will have a warmer, yellowish cast, while higher numbers like 5000K indicate light quality on the cooler, more bluish end of the spectrum.
For more guidance on selecting the best combination of CFLs for any room, GE Lighting has a really cool online tool at www.whatsmylightingstyle.com that can help.
Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and co-author of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. He delivers home remodeling tips each week as host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program.