CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) have been a big disappointment to me. I bought one when they first came out, and although you did get some light when you first turned them on, it took about 30 seconds before the bulb reached its full brightness. About two years ago the technology had advanced so that you didn’t have to wait to achieve full brightness, so I decided to replace all of our 60 watt incandescent bulbs with CFLs, and a dozen of the recessed lighting flood lamps. Fortunately I didn’t throw out the old bulbs.
The CFL packages had said (in very large letters) “Uses 75% Less Energy” and “Lasts 10X Longer”, so I didn’t mind paying $4 or $5 per bulb (and much more for the CFL flood lights). As of today, about half of the CFLs (both types) have burned out on us, and I’ve replaced them with the old incandescent bulbs that I had saved. In my opinion, the CFLs didn’t even last as long as incandescent bulbs would have lasted. In addition to having dead CFLs, I worried about how to dispose of them (because of their small amount of mercury content). The bottom line is that it will be a long time before I buy another CFL again.
I don’t know why my CFLs didn’t last. Maybe they were poorly made (although I did use 2 different brands). Maybe our neighborhood has a lot of voltage spikes or brownouts (but nothing else seems to have been affected). Makes you wonder: was the claim of lasting 10 times longer was based on a test of some carefully-made CFLs that had been illuminated under a regulated constant voltage?
Don’t get me wrong- I’m a big supporter of saving energy, and we’ve made a lot of changes that were very effective (additional attic insulation, a new high-efficiency HVAC unit, and induction counter top). Our 2012 electric and natural gas bills show that we’ve significantly reduced our kWh and therms. However, to me the CFLs aren’t ready for prime time, and I won’t be throwing any more good money after bad. Light-emitting diode (LED) technology is very exciting, and that may be the way of the future. The LED light bulbs are very expensive right now, but I’m sure they’ll come down in price. After all, you already can buy some very bright LED flashlights for less than $5.
That’s how I feel. If your experience with CFLs has been different, please let us know.