Incandescent bulbs, I wish I knew how to quit you!Just like Jack in Brokeback Mountain, I can't seem to tear myself away from my taboo love. There's something so warm, so comforting about the soft light of incandescents that I find myself drifting back to them every time I start flirting with more energy-efficient bulbs. I know I should be going greener, but I just can't help myself. Most of the eco-friendly changes I've made have been easy – and they've stuck. Taking the bus to work, driving my ultra-low-emissions car, buying organic and local whenever possible and logical – all of these have been a piece of cake. But cleaning up my environmental act and switching to CFLs or LEDs is tough. There's nothing romantic about the blinding, blue-tinged, police-interrogation-room light of LEDs or the flickery yellow of CFLs. I think it was my choice of bulbs at the start of my quest for greener light that did me in. A few years ago, when CFLs were new, I had no idea what I was looking at. "Eleven watts for 60 watts of light?!" I cried at my bewildered husband. "Honey, get a cart!" They were awful. Those cheap little 11-watters were so dim that you'd have to have a chandelier full of them – which totally defeats the purpose. Secondly, even if you did have a hundred, they bathe the room in a sickly yellow light that makes you feel like you're sitting in a can of waxed beans. They just weren't worth the eye strain and the malaise they induced. Or so I thought. Recently, my green guilt got to me. My parents had switched to CFLs and were raving about how much better they had become and how much energy they were saving. So I headed to Home Depot and picked up a new bulb made by Phillips that promised the same energy savings but light that evoked something found in nature, not a hospital corridor. We picked up a 16-watt CFL to replace a 65-watt one we had in one of the potlights downstairs. I was skeptical, but my husband gamely screwed it in and flipped the switch. It took a minute to warm up, but the light was nearly indistinguishable from that of its incandescent neighbours. Side-by-side, they looked almost identical. Eureka! Now that we've found an alternative that works, we're planning on putting in CFLs whenever an incandescent burns out. We've got a couple going now, and the rest should burn out within the next year or so. It spreads out the cost – those good CFLs are not cheap – and gives me a chance to say a long goodbye to my secret love.
What do you think of compact fluorescents? Have you started making a change, and have you found a brand that works for you? Share your comments below.Today's code word: bulbs. Read more: • Save energy (and money!) in your home • Top 10 ways to save energy in your kitchen