Better and Brighter Bulbs

FRESNO, Calif.

CFLs haven't been the lightbulb of choice for many people because some say they don't give off enough light and others prefer the light from incandescent bulbs.

But in Consumer Reports' latest tests of more than 26 of the newest CFLs, they've improved. Consumer Reports' Celia Lehrman says, "Some of the ones we tested this year use about 60 to 75 percent less mercury than ones we tested just three years ago."

And testers found today's CFLs do a good job mimicking the light of incandescent bulbs. But it is important to shop carefully. Lehrman: "You want to check for the Energy Star logo. That means that the bulb has met strict standards for energy efficiency and durability, but also standards for color and brightness."

And to get light that's like an incandescent's, check the label to make sure it has a color temperature of about 27-hundred K, or Kelvin. More Kelvins doesn't necessarily mean a brighter bulb. A bulb with 4000 or more Kelvin is actually going to have a bluer light, not necessarily a brighter light, and that may not be what you're looking for.

For table lamps, Consumer Reports says a good choice is the 60-watt equivalent Eco-Smart bulbs from Home Depot. They cost six dollars for a four pack, and their light is like a traditional incandescents.

Consumer Reports says CFLs should always be recycled because even the new ones contain some mercury. Several stores now accept them, including Home Depot, Ikea, Lowe's, and some Ace Hardware stores. You can find for more CFL recycling locations at:

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