Much has been said about the mercury content in CFLs. I finally found a rebuttal, courtesy of Australian ex-Amiga journalist Dan Rutter. If you don’t want to read the article: The mercury is in gaseous form, so it will dissipate on its own within a matter of hours, at most. Breaking a CFL won’t turn your house into an EPA Superfund site.
I know not everyone likes CFLs, but they’ve made a non-trivial difference in my electric bills since I started phasing them into my house about five years ago. At this point I think my CFLs probably cut my electric bill by at least $30 a month, and that estimate could be low.
Some (but not all) of those bulbs from 2002 are still going strong. I do think the newer bulbs are better than what was generally available in 2002, both in terms of the whiteness of the light and in longevity, and they’re a lot cheaper now too.
I do avoid using them in bathrooms though. Nothing I put in there lasts long, so I’ve taken to using $1 40W incandescent bulbs in there. So far, they last longer than vanity globes of either the CFL or incandescent variety, and cost less.
I do consider CFLs just a stopgap until LED lighting goes mainstream. I’m not really ready to pay $35 per bulb yet, even if it’s going to last 15 years. Maybe LEDs will be cheaper by the time my stock of CFLs runs out. If not, I’ll buy another box and see what happens.