I admit it: I haven't exactly been quick to jump on the compact fluorescent bandwagon. I'm all for saving the planet, of course, but the light these bulbs emit is just so ... glaring and horrible. So I assuage my guilt by going for the lowest-watt incandescent bulbs I can get away with (seriously -- I buy 15-watters in bulk) while I wait for the magic of science to come up with a better-looking energy-saving bulb.
But I just read a tip that could get me to finally give CFLs a shot: Turns out that CFLs are about three times brighter, per watt, than incandescent bulbs. (So that's why the 40W CFLs Nick sneakily installed in our closets gave me an instant migraine.) For a more subtle fluorescent light, go for a CFL bulb that's no more than a third the wattage of the bulb you're swapping it out for -- replace a regular 60W bulb with a 20W CFL, for instance, or a 40W bulb for a 15W CFL. To further tone down that sometimes-toxic fluorescent glow, use the bulbs in fixtures with warm-colored shades to help diffuse and soften the light they emit.
If you need another incentive, consider this: If every American home replaced just one regular bulb for a CFL, it would prevent the formation of greenhouse gases equivalent to those emitted by 800,000 cars.
I think I'm finally beginning to see the light.