I'm an economist in the electric industry and one of my projects was to run a cost-benefit analysis on a variety of energy efficiency measures. The LED-lovers aren't going to like to hear this but CFLs are a much better investment, at least here in the Northwest where electricity is cheap ($.06 cents/kWh). LEDs use only about 10% less energy than a CFL and *only* last twice as long. At 5-10 times the purchase price, LEDs just aren't worth it. Don't get me wrong - if you've got a dimmer or a location where CFLs just won't fit, go with LEDs. But for regular lamps and non-recessed ceiling lights, CFLs are the way to go. But I don't like CFLs because...
The bright white light, the flicker, the slow warmup times, they don't last, mercury!, etc.
CFLs have come a long ways since the 90s and if you look for the right ones, the above issues aren't issues.
Look for "soft white" bulbs. The light they produce is about the same frequency as that of a regular incandescent.
Some still flicker, but most don't.
Some still have warmup times, but they're much shorter than they used to be.
Heat is a problem. If you have recessed fixtures and want to use CFLs, look for models that have a cooling vent on the neck of the bulb.
The mercury thing is pretty overblown. Modern CFLs have a miniscule amount of mercury in them that pales in comparison to the amount of mercury that would be released into the air by the coal plant that would have to ramp up to power an incandescent instead of your CFL. Plus, if you managed to break one, it's not that big a deal. Just leave the room for a few minutes, then scoop it up and put it in a sealed container before throwing it away. Even the EPA site
that describes the procedure says not to be alarmed if you don't do it properly.
Above all else, buy bulbs with the EnergyStar certification. Not only are they better built, but they're required to come with a warranty
to back it up. I personally use these
. The light is good, they don't flicker, and they've lasted years without ever needing to be replaced. Even better, at $1.50 each, the payback is about a year even with 6 cent electricity. Anyway, let me know if anybody wants to see the math or is interested in how other efficiency measures pencil out.