For years, compact fluorescent lighting has gotten a bad rap, with a reputation for its harsh white color and ever-annoying buzzing sounds and flickering motions. But these once-true characteristics are history, thanks to new technologies and savvy manufacturers who are designing better products.

"Compact fluorescent lights have come a long way," says Stephen Blackman, director of design and innovation for Waukegan, Ill.-based manufacturer American Fluorescent. "If I put a fluorescent lamp and an incandescent lamp side by side behind a piece of glass, you could not tell the difference."

BRIGHT IDEA: Don't want to change a light bulb for the next 15 to 20 years? Then try Hi-Ef, a complete line of LED residential lighting products including pendants, recessed, cove, and step/outlet fixtures. The collection of dimmable fixtures in warm colors appear and operate like incandescent sources but offer significant energy–efficiency savings. LEDs emit little heat and the life span is 30,000 hours compared to 1,000 for an incandescent lamp and 8,000 to 10,000 for a compact fluorescent lamp. Many buyers, however, are unaware of these advancements and still eye fluorescents skeptically. American Fluorescent and others are working to change the product's image with the introduction of new lines of energy-efficient lighting that offer style and appeal comparable to any incandescent fixture. For instance, lighting manufacturer Progress Lighting now offers a handful of its most popular incandescent fixtures in energy-efficient versions, and American Fluorescent introduced its Studio A collection, which resembles high-end European lines.

And as energy bills soar to record highs, multifamily owners and developers are quickly flocking to these high-design efficient products. (California actually requires efficient lighting through Title 24, a state law updated in 2005.) Consider this: Energy Star-qualified products, which meet strict EPA testing guidelines, generate about 78 percent less heat than their incandescent counterparts and the bulbs have a minimum life of 10,000 hours. "You are going to pay a little bit more [up front], but you are going to get it back at the meter month after month," says Jeff Beiter, director of business development, energy-efficient products at manufacturer Sea Gull Lighting.

Chris Laurent, senior development manager at Madison, Wis.-based Gorman & Co., needs no convincing. He installed compact fluorescent lighting not only in the common areas of a new affordable property in Madison, Wis., but also in the units to help residents save money. He expects residents to save 20 percent to 25 percent on their energy bills. (Savings also include use of energy-efficient washers, dryers, and refrigerators.)

So what's the next hot, efficient product? LED lighting. The technology, while certainly not new, is just now picking up steam in the residential marketplace. LED offers even more benefits than compact fluorescents as the lights last longer, emit less heat, and don't contain mercury, says Paula Powers, Progress Lighting's marketing communications specialist. Lighting experts do caution that at this point, it's difficult to offer LED at an affordable price point for the mass market. Laurent, though, has his eyes on LED. "It looks very promising," he says.

For more information, call Progress Lighting at 864-599-6000 or visit

CLIMATE CONTROL: Get two for one with the Ultra Silent humidity-sensing fan/light combo from Broan. The fan automatically turns on to exhaust excess moisture in the bathroom and turns off once the job is done. Two models are available: One includes a 42-watt fluorescent bulb that makes it Energy Star-qualified and California Title 24-compliant; the other features a standard 100-watt bulb. Both offer a four-watt nightlight.

For more information, call Broan at 800-558-1711 or visit

FLOWER POWER: Inspired by a favorite spring flower, the Iris decorative fluorescent pendant has five 13-watt quad compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs. The pendant, shown in the earth–tone finish, also is available as a vanity fixture, flush mount, wall sconce, or outdoor fixture.

For more information, call American Fluorescent at 847-249-5970 or visit

BLING BLING: These embellishments sure aren't cubic zirconias. The Bling Bling large pendant with embedded Swarovski crystals will add a touch of glam to any clubhouse. The fixture's outer perforated steel shade features a sleek chrome finish. Three 12-inch stems, one 6-inch stem, and a clear bottom diffuser are included. The fixture is 48 inches tall.

For more information, call Bellacor at 877-688-7039 or visit

PERFECT MATCH: Switch it up with a new designer collection of lighting controls and wiring devices called Elements by Decora. Light switches, preset dimmers, duplex receptacles, and wall plates feature marble, oak, and walnut finishes that coordinate with premium countertops and wall surfaces.

For more information, call Leviton Manufacturing Co. at 800-367-5424 or visit

NIGHT LIGHT: The Yorktown outdoor wall lantern not only offers great style, but also can help reduce energy cost and consumption. The Energy Star-qualified fluorescent fixture generates about 78 percent less heat than standard incandescent lighting. The lantern is finished in black with swirled, marbleized glass. The company manufactures more than 500 Energy Star-qualified lighting products.

For more information, call Sea Gull Lighting at 800-347-5483 or visit