Better CFLs

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CFLs haven't been the lightbulb of choice for many people.

One told us, "It doesn't give off enough light."

Another said, "I prefer the incandescent."

A third explained, "I know that you just can't throw them away when they go."

But in Consumer Reports' latest tests of more than 26 of the newest CFLs, they've improved.

According to Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman with Consumer Reports, "Some of the ones we tested this year use about 60 to 75% less mercury than ones we tested just three years ago." (super)

And testers found today's CFLs do a good job mimicking the light of incandescent bulbs. That's a CFL on the left and an incandescent on the right.

But it is important to shop carefully.

Celia suggests, "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.

Celia says, "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 $6 for a four pack, and their light is like a traditional incandescent's.

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.

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