Popular Mechanics has an article on Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs on their website that reaches the following conclusions based on measurements of color temperature, brightness and wattage; and observations by three members of their staff and a lighting expert:
Even though the incandescent bulb measured slightly brighter than the equivalent CFLs, our subjects didn’t see any dramatic difference in brightness. And here was the real shocker: When it came to the overall quality of the light, all the CFLs scored higher than our incandescent control bulb. In other words, the new fluorescent bulbs aren’t just better for both your wallet and the environment, they produce better light.
All CFLs used about 70 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs. The average U.S. household has 45 light bulbs — replacing that number of 75-watt incandescent bulbs with CFLs would save $180 per year.
In a related item lighting manufacturer TCP is increasing production of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) by 23 percent to 800,000 per day in order to meet increasing consumer demand, this capacity would probably be increased to 1 million lamps per day by the end if the year. TCP makes 70 percent of the CFLs on the market today through name brand, private label and other lighting manufacturers (OLMs), including The Home Depot. (courtesy Inside Greentech)
It was not such a shocker to me that quality of light was so good. I have replaced about half of the lights in my home with CFL's and have seen no degradation in quality in all but one light, which was very obviously of the wrong color and have noticed a significant decrease in my electric bill. Despite all your comments on their mercury content on my last post on the subject, my conclusion is, that the bulbs should be disposed of properly, but the mercury content of these bulbs is much less then that of other items around the home.
The quantity of bulbs being manufactured is much larger than I expected--they must have a wordwide market, but still that is a lot of bulbs.