Compact Fluorescent Light (CFLs) Bulbs for “Designers” (or Finicky Homeowners)

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As a part of the “energy-efficient home” package, our builder had provided these fantastic compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs for the floodlights in our living room. About a year in, one of the bulbs burned out, and I promptly went to the store to buy a replacement. When I got back home, I quickly installed it and realized the stark difference between the other three original bulbs and the one I bought. While the original builder’s bulbs gave off a nice soft, yellow glow, the new bulb I bought gave off a harsh, white light that turned our living room into the set for CSI.

Wanting to bring life back into that corner of my room and turning the cadaver on the couch back into my husband, I went looking for the “perfect” CFL for my home. If you’re like me and are very particular on the lighting in your rooms, you’ll find these links below useful:

Finding a CFL with warm colors
Read the label on the box when shopping for a warm-color CFL. The Kelvin scale (K) is used to measure lighting color. For warm colors, look for bulbs marked at lower numbers in the 2,700-3,000K range. Bright white sits around 3,500-4,000K and blue “daylight” is in the 5,000-6,000K range.

Finding a dimmable CFL
Need to change the mood of the room by adding a dimmer? There are various CFLs for your table lamp and floodlights that work with a dimmer. You can find them at our BrightenSM Online Energy Store, an energy savings solution from TXU Energy, as well as at your local retailer.

Finding an “instant-on” CFL
It’s taken me some time to get used to the delayed start common to CFLs, but I’ve learned to appreciate the 10 second gentle transition from darkness to brightness. If you’re replacing a bulb in a room where instant full illumination is needed, you might want to consider a halogen/CFL hybrid bulb. Bonus: they’re shaped like a regular incandescent bulb so if the squiggly tubes don’t look right in that lamp on your table, you’ve got an option!

Finding a CFL with the right brightness
Feel like you need a conversion table for matching CFL brightness to the wattage on the incandescent bulb you’re replacing? In the old days, incandescent bulb brightness was based on energy consumption measured by watts. Today, CFL brightness is measured in lumens. A 1,600 lumen CFL would be about as bright as a 100 watt incandescent bulb but actually consume about a quarter of the wattage. An 800 lumen bulb matches to about 60 watts and 450 lumens matches to about 40 watts.