CFL lighting: Save more cash on energy bills

CFLCompact 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.
  • Be sure to match a CFLs amount of light output to that of the incandescent you're replacing. Packaging should indicate the incandescent equivalent (e.g., "60 Watt Replacement"), but you can also reference the lumen rating, a common notation on both CFL and incandescent packaging. The lumens will be higher when the light output is greater.
  • When you're replacing CFLs in a room, select bulbs of the same color and brand for a more consistent quality of light throughout the space. Sylvania's Living Spaces CFL collection, for example, includes bulbs in a range of wattage levels and sizes (including a micro-mini twist, the smallest on the market) that share the same warm, color-enhancing light output.

    For more guidance on selecting the best combination of CFLs for any room, GE Lighting has a really cool online tool at 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.

    Read more of Tom's tips on WalletPop

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