University of Florida

Compact Fluorescent Lights

Lighting accounts for about 10 percent of a home’s energy bill and is a main source of internal heat. Fortunately, you can decrease your energy bill and increase lighting efficiency with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.  

CFLs convert UV energy into light, using about 25 percent of the energy of incandescent lights. CFLs can also save you money on air conditioning costs because more of the energy used is converted into light rather than heat.

Upgrading from incandescent lights to CFLs isn’t typically covered by incentive programs, but it is relatively low-cost (although CFLs may cost more than regular bulbs). CFLs can usually be found at utility buy-down programs, energy efficiency events, and even giveaways. Although switching to CFLs may not be expensive, choose high quality lights to ensure you’ll get the best efficiency.

Choosing Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Those shopping for CFLs should compare brands for price and the following:

  • Lumens and Watts – Lumens measure light input and watts measure energy use. Together, lumens and watts can tell you the bulb efficiency, which is also known as lumens per watt (LPW). LPW is calculated by dividing lumens into watts—the higher the LPW, the more light is received for the energy used.
  • Color Rendering Index (CRI) – The CRI measures perceived color of objects when they are under artificial light. The higher the CRI, the more natural and lively the perceived color. When shopping for the home, choose bulbs with a CRI of 80 or above.
  • Color Correlated Temperature (CCT) – CCT measures the warmth and coolness of light. A CCT below 3100 K is a warm, white light.

Remember, read the label before you buy a CFL to find out where the bulb can be used. For example, some bulbs are specifically made for dimmer switches and outdoor fixtures.

Adapted and excerpted from:

Energy Efficiency Incentives,” UF/IFAS Extension (Accessed 12/2014).

Lighting,” UF/IFAS Extension Living Green (Accessed 12/2014).

Compact Fluorescent Lights

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