You probably think of fluorescent bulbs and envision a dreary office cubicle with cold, dead tube lighting. But today’s compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and cast a soft, warm glow while being incredibly energy efficient. If every American home replaced its five most frequently used light bulbs with Energy Star–qualified bulbs, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to those emitted by 10 million cars.
One Energy Star–qualified CFL uses about 75 percent less energy than a standard incandescent bulb, but lasts 10 times longer. To decide which bulbs to buy for your fixtures, use this Energy Star lighting chart.
For task lighting, consider light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. Based on computer technology, LED bulbs last 50,000 to 60,000 hours—just connect them to an electricity source like a battery or outlet—and they’re more energy efficient than even CFLs. However, because LED lighting is flat and directional, it’s not recommended for general use.