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Published: Friday, 1/28/2011

CFL 101: Selecting Energy-Efficient Lighting

(NAPS)—With so many lighting choices on the shelf at your local retail store, it's not always easy to decide whether you should replace your burned-out bulb with an incandescent, halogen, LED or other style. One variety that's growing in popularity is energy-efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Take GE's quick course on CFLs to better understand the facts, myths and more and to learn how smart lighting choices can be one of the easiest ways to save on energy costs.

Lesson One: The Basics

CFL stands for compact fluorescent light, but more importantly, it serves as an energy-efficient bulb that uses two-thirds less energy, produces 70 percent less heat and lasts up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs. While a standard incandescent bulb uses heat to produce light, a CFL creates light using an entirely different method that is four times more efficient.

This means that you can buy a 15-watt compact fluorescent bulb that produces the same amount of light as a 60-watt regular incandescent bulb.

Unlike the first models, modern CFLs don't produce the same flickering, humming or dim light when initially turned on. CFLs also come in a variety of wattages, shapes and sizes to deliver the same light as a standard bulb and fit almost any fixture in the house.

Lesson Two: The Types

CFLs are ideal for everyday lighting. They can replicate cool, natural light or simulate midday sunlight for warm, comfortable lighting. Most CFLs are available in three-way and dimmable bulbs for adjustable light levels and provide application versatility with a host of bulb options including floodlights, chandelier, ceiling fans, globes, corkscrew-shaped and even outdoor post lights.

One newer CFL option is a covered or incandescent-shaped bulb, where a corkscrew-shaped CFL is covered with glass to give the appearance of a standard incandescent bulb. Covered CFL bulbs can be seen as more aesthetically pleasing and fit in more lamps and fixtures than standard corkscrew-shaped bulbs.

Lesson Three: The Applications

Lighting plays as big a role in home design as furniture, wall paint or appliances. There are three main types of lighting: ambient (general overhead), task and accent (decorative). CFL bulbs can be used for all of these lighting functions to enhance the mood, improve visibility and offer energy savings. Since color is key in home design, select CFLs that filter out dull yellow rays and make colors “pop.”

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