Living on Long Island with one of the highest electric rates in the country, saving energy is a very real concern. There are numerous light bulbs available today that can save you money. The most common and one most people are familiar with now is compact fluorescents. When these first became available they lacked a good quality and quantity of light and were rather bulky. So bulky in many cases that they wouldn't fit in your average light fixture. That has all changed; today's compact fluorescents are smaller, brighter and have a better quality of light.
While you may not want to use them everywhere in your home, there are some places where they are more than adequate. The best place for these bulbs to give you the most cost savings is in fixtures that are on for long periods of time. A good example is the light outside the front and back door. In most homes these lights stay on all night amounting to maybe 12 hours a day. Changing both fixtures from 100-watt incandescent light bulbs to 26-watt compact fluorescents can save you about $50 a year. Another positive aspect is you won't need to change the bulbs for 2 years and likely a little longer. There is one downside to using these outside. In very cold temperatures, far below freezing, they do take some time to warm up and will at times be dim. Since we don't have a lot of days like that it is not generally a big problem.
Another very good spot for them is a shower light. It won't save you a great deal in electric because it isn't on very long but you won't be changing the bulb for some time. For this reason it is a good idea to place these bulbs in fixtures where changing the bulb is difficult to do. For the best light you'll want to look for a full spectrum bulb. As much as they have improved I still wouldn't recommend compact fluorescents in areas where a good amount of light is needed. Task areas like kitchens and bathrooms require more lighting than other rooms and compact fluorescents may not do the job. This is only when replacing existing incandescent bulbs. There are fixtures and recessed lights that are made to use compact fluorescents. Thos fixtures can provide adequate lighting in any situation.
LED's may very well be the light bulbs of the future although they are not widely available today. LED clusters are bright but use very little electricity. They also have an incredible bulb life and will last for many years. There are some products on the market and if you do a search on the Internet you will be able to see some of them.