Household Tips & Resources

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs)

Switching to CFLs is a small change that can keep your home cooler, save 60% - 75% energy use and up to $24 per year per bulb!  Be sure to pick a bulb that fits your fixture, for indoor or outdoor use.

What is a CFL?

A compact fluorescent light (CFL) is a light bulb that uses less energy to produce the same amount of light as a regular bulb. CFLs also produce less heat, last much longer, and save you money by using less electricity.

If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star ®, we would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars. For more information, please visit www.energystar.gov.

Most CFLs are available in different sizes and styles, so be sure to select the bulbs that fit your fixtures and allow for ample air flow.  Note that not all CFLs are designed to be used in enclosed fixtures or damp or wet locations, so be sure to read the manufacture's label.

Since packaging for CFL bulbs differ among manufacturers, be sure to:

  • Look for the words Energy Saving or Energy Saver bulbs.
  • Check for the ENERGY STAR® logo. This means the product has met strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.
  • Look for the UL® mark on the package or bulb. This indicates the product has passed rigorous safety testing by Underwriters Laboratories.

CFLs Come in Different Shades of White

  • Warm White or sometimes called Soft White has a color temperature of 2,700K, this is the most common color and produces the same white color as a old fashion light bulb.
  • Cool White has a color temperature of 4,100K, this is bluer white in appearance. This shade of white is more commonly found in work places and professional offices.
  • Daylight color temperature from 5,000K to 6,350K, daylight bulbs are preferred in many reading applications because the light makes items illuminated appear as they would when illuminated by sun light.

Types of CFL

CFL standard

Standard Spiral Bulbs
The most popular bulb available, the spiral CFL bulb's ice cream cone shape helps distribute light evenly in all directions and is best used in desk, floor and shade lamps, swing arm lamps, and wall lights and sconces that allow ample air flow. Spiral bulbs also are available in a mini size.

To properly install or remove a spiral CFL, grip the unit by its plastic base and not by the spiral glass tube. The base of a CFL is typically comprised of white plastic. You can then install the CFL bulb into the fixture by turning the base clockwise. To remove the CFL, turn the base counter clockwise. By holding the base, you minimize the risk for shattering the glass tube.


CFL specialty

Specialty CFLs
Most specialty bulbs are available in different sizes, so be sure to select bulbs that fit your fixtures and allow for ample air flow. Note that not all CFLs are designed to be used in damp or wet locations.


CFL specialty A-type shape

Specialty A-Type Shape CFL
For aesthetic reasons, choose A-in bulbs for light fixtures where the bulb will be exposed, such as ceiling fan light fixtures.


CFL - specialty globe shape

Specialty Globe Shape CFL
Globe-style bulbs work best for vanity mirrors, bathroom light fixtures and some ceiling fan light fixtures where you would like an attractive display of this type of bulb.


CFL - specialty shape chandelier

Specialty Shape Chandelier CFL
This bullet-shaped CFL bulb offers a stylish look for chandeliers, specialty decorative lamps and some ceiling fan light fixtures.


CFL - reflector

Reflector CFL
Downlight can fixtures are popular in many newly constructed homes, and reflector CFL bulbs offer the perfect fit for this type of Recessed lighting. Reflector bulbs also work in upright can fixtures, track lighting and accent lighting fixtures. Be sure to choose bulbs that fit properly and do not protrude from the fixture as this can cause glare.


CFL 3-way

3-way CFL (three levels of light)
Some 3-way bulbs closely resemble spiral bulbs and also are available in different shapes such as A-line and circleline. Use them in desk, floor and shade lamps, swing arm lamps, wall lights and sconces that allow ample air flow and that use a three way switch. Note that most 3-ways bulbs should not be used in enclosed fixtures, damp or wet locations.


CFL - dimmable

Dimming CFL (spiral and reflector shapes)
CFLs with the dimmer feature are now available and you'll find them in spiral and reflector shapes with the word dimmable on the CFL bulb or packaging. Manufacturers continue to add new shapes each year, so check with your retailer for updates. Be sure to only use dimmable CFLs in fixtures that have the dimmer control feature.