Pale and Tragic: Ugly CFL Fixes

06/09/2008 12:17 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When I said I wanted to go green, I didn't mean I wanted to look green.

I'm all for reducing our energy consumption, and Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) are an easy way to do it, but some of them leave me looking less than lovely in their light. But they're four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents, and keep greenhouse gases out of our air. Energy Star reports that if every home replaced just one light bulb with a CFL, enough energy would be saved to light more than 3 million homes for a year.

All of which makes me seem petty and shallow when I admit that I really hate these bulbs. They take forever to warm up and reach their full brightness after you flip the switch. They flicker -- subtly, so you think you're imagining it. And they cast a pallid green glow over your skin and your walls and your breakfast. Some of them even hum.

I realize we all must make sacrifices to save the planet from doom. But no one's going to embrace a future in which our bedrooms and bathrooms are lit like an airport parking structure.

I heard that CFL technology is improving and a little research dug up solutions to my conundrum. You can buy CFL bulbs at different "color temperatures" now (check here for tons of options). According to Energy Star "Lower kelvin numbers mean the light has a warmer color, while higher Kelvin numbers mean the light has a cooler color." Look for a bulb with a lower kelvin number (2700-3000) which will be warmer. Higher kelvin numbers (4000-5000) produce a glow that is more white, like we expect from fluorescents.

And if you've had trouble finding CFL's to fit in your fixtures, there are low-energy options for every lamp, from candelabra to dimmables, so no excuses!