It starts small. First you ignore the advice on the package of the compact fluorescent lightbulb.. You move on to using a CFL in what can only be described as a bad situation, and before you know it, the bulbs are goners. Sure, CFLs save energy and money—they use about 75 percent less electricity than standard incandescent bulbs and can last seven to 10 times longer. But using them in the wrong way or wrong place can shorten their lifespans. Here are some common misdemeanors.
Dimming a nondimmable CFL. Unless the package says the CFL is dimmable and can be used with a dimmer switch, don’t do it.
Trapping the heat. CFLs are sensitive to heat and heat build-up can shorten their life. Check the package to find if the CFL can be used in enclosed fixtures and recessed cans.
Frequent flipping. Repeatedly turning them on and off throughout the day affects the bulb’s life. CFLs last longer and perform better if they’re on for 15 minutes or more.
Rain and snow. Protect CFLs from moisture. Look for bulbs that can be used in enclosed fixtures outdoors or that are rated for wet locations. And if you live in a cold climate, check the package for operating temperatures.
Most of the CFLs in Consumer Reports lightbulb tests cannot be used with photocells, motion sensors or electronic timers. Our Ratings indicate which ones can. The lightbulb Ratings also show how CFLs compare to LEDS and halogen bulbs.