Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL)
By now everyone has heard of the Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL). They have been
in the news, on and off, for the last couple of years and are being heavily
promoted as energy savings alternatives to incandescent lamps. Being they have a
much longer life (usually 7500-10,000+ hours) compared to a standard
incandescent (750 to 1000 hours), many places around the world are in the
process of banning incandescent light bulbs in favor of CFL and other energy
saving type lamps.
Nonetheless, CFLs are definitely a desirable alternative to incandescent bulbs in most cases. They are about 300-400% more efficient than incandescent light bulbs, and they last 5-8 times longer. They give off significantly less heat, which make them a much less fire risk.
Like other fluorescent lamps, CFLs are best used in places where once they are put on, are left on for at least 15 minutes or more. The reason is that CFLs can take up to 3 minutes to warm-up and reach the point where they operate most efficiently and brightly. Lighting a fluorescent lamp of any sort, not only causes wear and tear on the electrodes, but uses more energy for the start-up, than what would otherwise be used during normal operation. Therefore frequently switching CFLs on and off will not only shorten their life, but significantly cut into your financial benefits (energy & life of lamp). Naturally, the ideal place to use a CFL is a location where the light will stay on for a while.
When using a CFL, never try to forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket by its tubes. Always screw and unscrew the lamp by its base.
It is a good idea to check and see if the CFL you are buying has a energy star logo. This means that it has met certain testing specification, which includes among other things minimum efficiency and longevity standards.