Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, don't earn nearly as many recommendations as the newer LED bulbs. Although they're almost as efficient and much cheaper up front, they just don't perform as well in expert tests. However, we found fairly strong reviews for the GE Energy Smart Spiral CFL 13W (Est. $13 for 8) . This 13-watt bulb produces 870 lumens of light, making it nearly 10 percent brighter than a 60-watt incandescent bulb. Both professional reviewers and home users say the bulb delivers a warm, bright light, and tests show that it's evenly distributed. GE estimates the bulb's lifespan at 12,000 hours of use, but tests indicate that it wears out much faster than others if it's switched on and off frequently. Many HomeDepot.com users complain about the bulb's poor lifespan, and some add that it takes too long to warm up to full brightness. Like most CFLs, this bulb can't be used with a dimmer switch.
We saw similar comments, both positive and negative, about the Feit EcoBulb Twist 60 watt equivalent (Est. $2) . This bulb is even brighter than the GE Energy Smart, producing 900 lumens with 13 watts of power. It also produces the same warm light, with a color temperature of 2,700K (Kelvin). However, reviews consistently show that this bulb takes a very long time to come up to full brightness. In one professional test it took more than 30 seconds to warm up, and in another it took nearly two minutes. Users are dissatisfied with not only the bulb's long, slow warm-up time but also its longevity. Feit estimates the bulb's lifespan at 10,000 hours of use, but like the GE bulb, it wears out quickly with a lot of on-off switching and is not dimmable.
With such similar specs, what's the best way to choose between the two bulbs? The Feit EcoBult Twist offers slightly better brightness and efficiency, while the GE Energy Smart Spiral does a bit better on price. However, their differences are slight enough that you can probably go with whichever bulb is available where you prefer to shop. And if you're looking for a bulb that will be switched on and off frequently, such as a closet or bathroom light, consider paying a bit more for an LED bulb or one of the new halogen incandescents.